Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Complete List of Constellations and Asterisms (and the Stories Behind Them)


Everyone, whether astronomer or not, is familiar with the term 'constellation.' For most laymen, the term 'constellation' means a pattern of stars in the sky. However, there is a lot more to the story than just stellar pictures.

So far as we know, the first people to break up the sky into patterns of stars were the Ancient Egyptians. Of the Egyptian constellations, we know very little, but we can say with certainty that the Egyptians did associate Orion (or at least his belt) with Osiris, god of the Underworld. Also, Sirius was also associated with the goddess Isis (Osiris' wife/sister) as well as dogs. It is from the Egyptians that we get the term 'Dog days of simmer' as they believed that Sirius lent its heat to the Sun during its invisibility, which just so happened to coincide with the hottest days of the year. As for the rest of their beliefs, the Egyptians obviously had a strong sky mythology, one just has to look at the astronomical ceilings in New Kingdom pharaohs' tombs to see this fact demonstrated in a tangible manner.

When it comes to setting the sky as we know it, this responsibility fell to the Ancient Greeks, who put their already very imaginative myths to the sky, filling it with heroes, maidens, beasts, animals, and other things that captivated the minds of the average Ancient Greek. In a way, by doing this, the Greeks who weren't as well versed in mythology as the poets and traveling bards could now use the sky to help them tell of the mythological heroes and their deeds with nearly all the constellations of that time becoming associated with a particular mythological figure(s).

By the time Greco-Roman civilization had reached its peak, the sky was no longer just the sky, but there were 48 constellations now defined with familiar star patterns and associated stories. It is this never formalized, but highly popular collection of constellations and resulting stories that still inhabit our sky, for the most part, today. In the early 1600s, with the advent of the Renaissance and the re-found interest in all things Classical, that the constellations would formerly be defined as not just pictures, but areas of sky. At this time, we lost and gained a few constellations, most notably losing Arvo Navis and Quadrans Muralis.

At the same time the Northern sky was being formalized after 2000 years of informal consensus, the Southern sky was getting surveyed for the first time as well. As the Greeks filled their sky with things that interested them, the Renaissance explorers would populate the Southern sky with things that were of interest at that point in time, namely telescopes, ships, crosses, and microscopes among other things of the Renaissance, sans stories. By the year 1930, the sky was formalized into the 88 constellations that we recognize today.

When it comes to basic, familiar patterns of stars, these are technically called asterisms. When it comes to asterisms, they can be made up of stars from several constellations (the Summer Triangle is made up of stars from Lyra, Cygnus, and Aquila) or from a group of stars within one constellation (the Big Dipper is made up of the brightest stars in the larger constellation of Ursa Major, the Great Bear). Generally speaking, asterisms are more conspicuous than constellations as they are often informal designations used to denote a bright grouping of stars that make up some kind of shape/picture. In addition, the pictures in asterisms (unlike constellations) most often look like what they're actually supposed to represent, too!

Below is a list of all 88 constellations and some famous asterisms. As I add detailed explanations of constellations, their names will appear In blue, thus highlighting a link to a new web page.  






Classical

Andromeda
Symbolism: Chained Princess
IAU Abbreviation: And
Season: Fall
Brightest Main Star: +2.1
Observing: To the eye, Andromeda appears as a double line of stars coming off the Great Square of Pegasus, specifically 'third base,' the left star of the square.
Story: In Greek mythology, Andromeda was the daughter of King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia. Told by an oracle that the only way to save his kingdom from a sea monster ravaging the coast was to sacrifice his daughter, Cepheus had Andromeda chained to a rock in the ocean. However, she was saved by Perseus, who used the head of the Medusa to turn the monster to stone.


Aquarius
Symbolism: Water Bearer
IAU Abbreviation: Aqr
Season: Fall
Brightest Main Star: +2.9
Observing: Riding low in the southern sky, Aquarius is a very dim zodiac constellation. Refer to a sky map (or the above depiction) when going out to look for it. In cities, you may not be able to see anything at all.
Story: There's a bit of mystery as to the origin of Aquarius the constellation. Originally, the constellation was simply seen as a vase pouring water. Later, though, it seems to have become associated with Ganymede (Aquarius), who was the son of a Trojan king and who was kidnapped by order of Zeus by a giant Eagle named Aquila and brought to Olympus so he could serve as cup-bearer to the gods.

Aquila
Symbolism: Eagle
IAU Abbreviation: Aqi
Season: Summer
Brightest Main Star: +0.7
Observing: Set off by bright Altair, Aquila appears almost as a sideways kits high in the summer sky. Additionally, the Milky Way runs right through the constellation, adding to the aesthetics.
Story: In Greek mythology, Aquila was the eagle commanded by Zeus (other accounts say that the eagle was Zeus himself transformed) who kidnapped Ganymede, son of a Trojan king, and brought him back to Olympus to serve as cup-bearer to the gods. Another story associated Aquila with the eagle sent by Zeus to retrieve the lyre belonging to murdered musician Orpheus.

Ara
Symbolism: Altar
IAU Abbreviation: Ara
Season: Summer
Brightest Main Star: +2.8
Observing: With no stars overly bright and situated in the midst of the Milky Way low on the Southern horizon, it's best to consult a star atlas when looking for this small, often overlooked constellation.
Story: Ara was the altar from which the gods made the first offerings before defeating the mythological Titans. The Milky way represents the smoke rising from the altar.

Aries
Symbolism: Ram
IAU Abbreviation: Ari
Season: Fall
Brightest Main Star: +2.0
Observing: With only a few bright stars, Aries would seem like a hard constellation to spot but, thanks to their proximity to each other, it is relatively easy to spot in the fall sky, which is far dimmer as a whole than summer or winter.
Story: Aries is the ram from whose wool the golden fleece was created in Greek mythology.

Auriga
Symbolism: Charioteer
IAU Abbreviation: Aur
Season: Winter
Brightest Main Star: -0.01 magnitude
Observing: A relatively bright constellation set off by bright Capella, look for this pentagram of stars to rise in the Northwest and then ride high as the night progresses.
Story: Auriga is most often associated with Erichthonius of Athens, son of Hephaestus who was raised by Athena. Ericthonius is credited for inventing the 4-horse chariot, whose design he modeled upon the chariot of Zeus and which he then used to defeat Amphictyon, the usurper King of Athens. Ericthonius then became king, dedicated Athens to Athena, and was eventually raised to the heavens by Zeus for his invention and heroism.

Bootes
Symbolism: Herdsman
IAU Abbreviation: Boo
Season: Spring
Brightest Main Star: -0.1
Observing: To find Bootes, follow the arc of the Big Dipper's handle to bright orange Arcturus, alpha Bootes, which serves as the base of the string for the kite-like constellation.
Story: Unlike many classical Greek constellations, Bootes is a bit of a mystery as there is no widely agreed upon consensus of who the constellation is supposed to represent. Candidates include a son of Demeter, brother of Philomenus, and Icarus of Athens (not the Icarus of wax wing fame).

Cancer
Symbolism: Crab
IAU Abbreviation: Cnc
Season: Spring
Brightest Main Star: +3.5
Observing: A very dim 'Y' of stars, the best way to find Cancer is to look directly between Leo and Gemini. Needless to say, a star atlas may be helpful.
Story: IN Greek mythology, Cancer was a crab that pinched Hercules as he was fighting the Hydra. Hercules then crushed the crab and Hera, who was jealous of Hercules, then decided to place a crab in the sky out of spite for the mythological hero.

Canis Major
Symbolism: Big Dog
IAU Abbreviation: CMa
Season: Winter
Brightest Main Star: -1.4
Observing: Set off by blue Sirius, brightest star in the sky, it's impossible to to miss Canis Major which, with a little imagination, looks like the side profile of a dog.
Story: In Greek mythology, Canis Major represented one of Orion's hunting dogs.


Canis Minor
Symbolism: Small Dog
IAU Abbreviation: CMi
Season: Winter
Brightest Main Star: +0.3
Observing: A very small constellation with only 2 main stars, look for bright Procyon, which is located between Sirius and Gemini.
Story: There are a few stories here. One associates Canis Minor with Orion's dogs but the best one is the myth concerning Icarus of Athens, upon whose death his daughter, Erigone, killed his dog, Maera, and then herself. In this account, Icarus became Bootes, Erigone Virgo, and Maera Canis Minor. According to this legend, Maera was placed where he was so that he would never go thirsty along the banks of the river-like Milky Way.

Capricornus
Symbolism: Goat
IAU Abbreviation: Cap
Season: Fall
Brightest Main Star: +2.8
Observing: A very dim triangle-like pattern of stars with its apex at the bottom, Capricorn rides low on fall nights in the Southern sky and, thanks to its dimness, may be impossible to see from the city/suburbia. A star atlas will be helpful here.
Story: Capricorn is often associated with Amalthea, the she-goat who suckled the infant Zeus.

Cassiopeia
Symbolism: Queen of Ethiopia
IAU Abbreviation: Cas
Season: Circumpolar (Fall and Winter are best)
Brightest Main Star: +2.1
Observing: Hard to miss, simply look for the 'W' of stars in the Northern sky.
Story: Cassiopeia was the mythological Queen of Ethiopia who was placed in the sky as punishment for bragging that she was more beautiful than the sea nymphs. The punishment: having to revolve around the Celestial Pole, upside-down for half of the year.

Centaurus
Symbolism: Centaur
IAU Abbreviation: Cen
Season: Spring
Brightest Main Star: -0.2
Observing: Unobservable in most of the United States but visible to the Greeks because of their more Southerly location, the best way to find Centaurus is by looking for bright alpha and beta, which are within a few degrees of each other.
Story: Unusual for a Classical constellation, the centaur's identity is anonymous.

Cepheus
Symbolism: King of Ethiopia.
IAU Abbreviation: Cap
Season: Circumpolar (Fall and Winter are best)
Brightest Main Star: +2.4
Observing: Look for the dim, house-like constellation next to the much more conspicuous Cassiopeia high in the Northern circumpolar sky on fall and winter nights.
Story: Cepheus was the mythological king of Ethiopia, husband of Cassiopeia and father of Andromeda. Cepheus had his daughter chained to a rock as a sacrifice to a sea monster after an oracle said that this was the only way to appease the beast so that it would leave the kingdom's waters. Upon Perseus rescuing Andromeda and turning the monster to stone, Cepheus allowed his daughter to marry her savior.

Cetus
Symbolism: Sea Monster
IAU Abbreviation: Cet
Season: Fall
Brightest Main Star: +2.1
Observing: Composed of largely dim stars and residing to the right of Taurus in an area of sky with virtually no bright stars, Cetus may be hard to see from suburbia even though it rises to about half way to zenith in the Southern sky. A star map may be useful in spotting it.
Story: Cetus was the sea monster terrorizing Ethiopian waters and the creature to whom Andromeda was offered as a sacrifice to. However, the hero Perseus rescued Andromeda and turned the monster to stone by showing it the Medusa's head.

Corona Australis
Symbolism: Southern Crown
IAU Abbreviation: CrA
Season: Summer
Brightest Main Star: +4.1
Observing: Very small and very dim, Corona Australis rides very low in the Southern sky below Sagittarius. With no stars brighter than 4th magnitude, forget about seeing it unless you like in the country and even then, a star atlas will probably be a good idea as the small, dim constellation is located in the rich Milky Way region of sky.
Story: There are two stories to this constellation. The first one is that it is the crown of Sagittarius, having fallen off the centaur's head. The other revolves around the god Bacchus, who was the son of Jupiter and a mortal woman named Stimula. After he became the god of wine, Bacchus placed a wreath in the sky to honor his deceased mother.

Corona Borealis
Symbolism: Northern Crown
IAU Abbreviation: CrB
Season: Spring
Brightest Main Star: +2.2
Observing: Look for the distinctive half oval of stars between Bootes and Hercules.
Story: The constellation represents the crown Dionysus gave to Ariadne, daughter of Minos, king of Crete, when they were married.

Corvus
Symbolism: Crow
IAU Abbreviation: Crv
Season: Spring
Brightest Main Star: +2.5
Observing: To find Corvus, follow the arc of the Big Dipper's handle to Arcturus, continue to bright blue Spica, and continue onto the small trapezoid of stars that is Corvus.
Story: Corvus was a pet crow owned by Apollo, who sent the bird to fetch water. Instead, Corvus decided to stop and eat figs and forgot about the water. Returning, sans water, to Apollo, Corvus said that there was a snake (Hydra) in the water and held a dead snake as proof. Apollo saw through the lie and threw the crow, cup (Crater) and snake into the heavens.

Crater
Symbolism: Cup
IAU Abbreviation: Crt
Season: Spring
Brightest Main Star: +3.5
Observing: To find Crater, follow the arc of the Big Dipper's handle to Arcturus, continue to bright blue Spica, move onto the small trapezoid of stars that is Corvus, and finally come to the dim outline of a cup. Because of the dimness and low rising, Crater may be impossible to see in suburbia and a star atlas may be a good idea, anyway.
Story: Crater was the cup that Corvus the crow was supposed to fill with water for Apollo.

Cygnus

Symbolism: Swan
IAU Abbreviation: Cyg
Season: Summer
Brightest Main Star: +1.2
Observing: On summer nights, look high overhead for a distinctive cross pattern of stars in the Milky Way highlighted by bright blue Deneb.
Story: Cygnus has been associated with just about every swan in Greek mythology, and there are several!

Delphinus
Symbolism: Dolphin
IAU Abbreviation: Del
Season: Summer
Brightest Main Star: +3.6
Observing:Look for the tiny diamond plus one constellation of stars just below the Deneb-Altair line in the Summer Triangle.
Story: Poseidon the sea god wanted to marry the nymph Amphitrite, who wanted nothing to do with him and fled to avoid him. Poseidon then sent out several searchers to look for her, one of them being Delphinus the dolphin. Delphinus found Amphitrite and persuaded her to marry Apollo. AS a gesture of thanks, Apollo elevated Delphinus to the heavens.

Draco
Symbolism: Dragon
IAU Abbreviation: Dra
Season: Circumpolar (best in Summer)
Brightest Main Star: +2.2
Observing: Thanks to its large size and winding nature, a star atlas is recommended for finding Draco. A good point to start is its head, located about half way between the Little Dipper and Vega. Head found, follow its winding trail of stars around the circumpolar sky.
Story: Two stories surround Draco. The first is that he was the dragon Ladon, who guarded the golden apples, with which Hercules was tasked stealing. Another is that he is a dragon who numbered among the Giants, who fought the gods of Olympus and who was tossed into the sky upon his defeat.

Equuleus
Symbolism: Pony
IAU Abbreviation: Equ
Season: Fall
Brightest Main Star: +3.9
Observing: A very small, dim constellation, it may be impossible to see because of light pollution from suburbia and, even in the country, a star atlas may be needed to find the diminutive pattern of stars located at the center of an imagined triangle connecting Delphinus, Pegasus, and Aquarius.
Story: Equuleus is associated with the mythological foal named Celeris, who is alternately considered the brother or offspring of the more famous Pegasus.

Eridanus
Symbolism: River
IAU Abbreviation: Eri
Season: Winter
Brightest Main Star: +0.4
Observing: Composed of largely dim stars save bright Archernar, a sky map might be useful in tracking down this otherwise dim constellation located between and slightly below Orion and Cetus.
Story: The path of Eridanus represents the mythological path the Sun took through the sky upon Phaeton taking over the duty of driving the Sun from his father, Helios. Why the weird path? Phaeton was unable to control the Solar chariot.

Gemini
Symbolism: Twins
IAU Abbreviation: Gem
Season: Winter
Brightest Main Star: +1.1
Observing: Look for the close together bright first magnitude stars, Pollux and Castor, which represent the heads of the mythological twins of the same names. From these two bright stars, follow twin lines of stars extending toward Orion.
Story: Mythological brothers Castor and Pollux bad a mortal mother, but Pollux also had a god, Zeus, for a father. Upon Castor's death (his father was mortal, too), Pollux begged his father, Zeus, to give Castor immortality. Zeus obliged and elevated Castor to the heavens to join his brother.

Hercules
Symbolism: Son of Zeus
IAU Abbreviation: Her
Season: Spring
Brightest Main Star: +2.7
Observing: Look for Hercules high overhead in the spring sky. Find the Keystone (the brightest part of the constellation) and then trace out the outlines of arms and legs from there.
Story: Zeus, King of the Gods, and chronically bored with divine wife Hera, fathered Hercules with a mortal woman. With his incredible strength, Hercules embarked on a legendary series of adventures over the Greco-Roman world before being elevated to the heavens upon death by his father, Zeus.

Hydra
Symbolism: Water Snake
IAU Abbreviation: Hya
Season: Spring
Brightest Main Star: +1.9
Observing: The largest constellation with a span over 100 degrees of sky, the easiest way to spot Hydra is to look for its head, a small circle of stars located below Cancer. From there, a star chart will be very handy to follow the snake's body through the sky until its tail, which lies below Libra.
Story: Hydra was the dead snake Corvus the crow brought back to Apollo instead of a cup of water. Apollo then cast the snake, crow, and cup (Crater) into the sky.

Leo
Symbolism: Lion
IAU Abbreviation: Leo
Season: Spring
Brightest Main Star: +1.3
Observing: Look for Leo by finding bright Regulus, which serves as the Lion's heart. From there, the shape of a lion can be discerned amongst the stars (with some imagination, of course).
Story: Leo represents the Nemean Lion, which Hercules fought and killed as one of his 12 Labors.

Lepus
Symbolism: Hare
IAU Abbreviation: Lep
Season: Winter
Brightest Main Star: +2.5
Observing: Small and dim, a star chart and dark skies will be useful in finding this small constellation, located below Orion's feet.
Story: Lepus is a hare hunted by Orion and his Dogs, Canis Major and Minor.

Libra
Symbolism: Scale
IAU Abbreviation: Lib
Season: Spring
Brightest Main Star: +2.6
Observing: Look for the pattern of stars resembling a balance scale to the right of Scorpius and Antares. In Greek times, Libra was the Scorpion's claws but was made a constellation in its own right in Roman times in order to have 12 Zodiac constellations to mirror the 12 months of the year.
Story: Libra represents the scale of Roman justice.

Lupus
Symbolism: Wolf
IAU Abbreviation: Lup
Season: Spring
Brightest Main Star: +2.3
Observing: Look for the small, dim constellation below Libra and to the right of Scorpius.
Story: Once a part of Centaurus, Lupus became a constellation in its own right in the 200s BC as a representation of an animal killed and about to be eaten by the Centaur. The association with a wolf did not arise until over 400 years later with Claudius Ptolemy.

Lyra
Symbolism: Lyre/Harp
IAU Abbreviation: Lyr
Season: Summer
Brightest Main Star: +0.0
Observing: To find Lyra, locate the Summer Triangle's apex and bright blue Vega, which blazes away at an even magnitude zero. From there, a small rectangle constitutes the rest of the instrument.
Story: The Lyre was the instrument of musician Orpheus, who was killed by the Bacchantes. Zeus then ordered an eagle to retrieve the lyre, which he then placed in the heavens.

Ophiuchus
Symbolism: Serpent Handler
IAU Abbreviation: Oph
Season: Summer
Brightest Main Star: +2.0
Observing: To find Ophiuchus, a large and dim constellation, look in the region of sky between Hercules and Scorpius. A star chart may come in handy when locating the constellation's large, house-like shape.
Story: Several characters having interactions with snakes in Classical Mythology are associated with Ophiuchus, among them are Apollo, Laocoon, and Asclepius.

Orion
Symbolism: Hunter
IAU Abbreviation: Ori
Season: Winter
Brightest Main Star: +0.1
Observing: The brightest and most recognizable constellation in the sky (the Big Dipper is an asterism, not a constellation), the hour glass-like figure of Orion is impossible to miss in the Southern sky on winter nights.
Story: Orion is the mythological hunter born to Poseidon by Euryale, a Gorgon. Orion was ultimately killed by a scorpion (Scorpius), though there are differing accounts of who sent the deadly insect after the hunter.

Pegasus
Symbolism: Winged Horse
IAU Abbreviation: Peg
Season: Fall
Brightest Main Star: +2.3
Observing: Look for the center of the constellation, a large square of second magnitude stars. From there, use a star chart to find the head and front legs of the horse.
Story: Pegagus was a winged horse with magical powers in Greek mythology.

Perseus
Symbolism: Hero
IAU Abbreviation: Per
Season: Fall
Brightest Main Star: +1.7
Observing: Look for a twisted 'V' of stars below the distinctive 'W' of Cassiopeia to find the mythological hero.
Story: Perseus was the hero who rescued Andromeda from a sea monster, which he killed by turning to stone by showing it Medusa's severed head. Perseus and Andromeda would later marry with the permission of her parents: King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia.

Pisces
Symbolism: Fish
IAU Abbreviation: Psc
Season: Fall
Brightest Main Star: +3.6
Observing: A sta chart will be handy in finding the large, dim Zodiac constellation located in the fall Southern sky below the much more conspicuous Pegasus.
Story: Pisces is associated with Aphrodite and Eros, who escaped the monster Typhon by turning themselves into fish. So as not to lose each other, they tied themselves together with rope.

Pisces Austrinis
Symbolism: Southern Fish
IAU Abbreviation: PsA
Season: Fall
Brightest Main Star: +1.1
Observing: To find the fish, locate its alpha star, Fomalhaut (the fish's eye), which is the only bright star in the Southern fall sky. From there, the dim body of the fish extends West.
Story: While not really a story in itself, the Greeks associated Pisces Austrinis with Aquarius, with the fish gulping down the water poured out of the water bearer's jug.

Saggita
Symbolism: Arrow
IAU Abbreviation: Sge
Season: Summer
Brightest Main Star: +3.5
Observing: Small but easy to spot because of its distinctive shape, look for Saggita within the Summer Triangle slightly up from its longest side.
Story: Saggita was regarded as the arrow of Hercules. As for what he killed with it, there are several candidates.

Sagittarius
Symbolism: Archer
IAU Abbreviation: Sgr
Season: Summer
Brightest Main Star: +1.8
Observing: Unmistakable in its teapot-like shape, look for Sagittarius low in the Southern summer sky in the heart of the Milky Way.
Story: Sagittarius is a mythological centaur, half-man, half-horse. As with the constellation Centaurus (the other centaur in the sky), there is confusion surrounding his identity.

Scorpius
Symbolism: Scorpion
IAU Abbreviation: Sco
Season: Summer
Brightest Main Star: +0.9
Observing: To see Scorpius, find bright red Antares, the scorpion's heart. Moving East, follow a fish hook-like shape that scrapes the Southern horizon at mid-Northern latitudes.
Story: In Greek mythology, it was the scorpion that killed Orion the hunter. AS for why he ended up dead, there are two competing stories. One was that Orion boasted that he would kill every animal on Earth. The mother and daughter goddesses Leto and Artemis, respectively, sent out a scorpion after Orion. Alternately, Apollo sent the scorpion after Orion took a liking to Artemis (who was Apollo's sister).

Serpens
Symbolism: Snake
IAU Abbreviation: Ser
Season: Spring
Brightest Main Star: +2.6
Observing: Look for Serpens immediately East of Ophiuchus, which is located in the large void between Scorpius and Hercules.
Story: Serpens is the snake being held by Ophiuchus, the serpent-bearer. Several characters having interactions with snakes in Classical Mythology are associated with Ophiuchus, among them are Apollo, Laocoon, and Asclepius.

Taurus
Symbolism: Bull
IAU Abbreviation: Tau
Season: Winter
Brightest Main Star: +0.8
Observing: Look for bright orange Aldebraran, the eye of the bull. This star is also in the 'V' shaped Hyades star cluster, which represents the bull's head. Going out to Auriga, follow the bull's horns
Story: Taurus is associated with a pair of stories involving love escapades of Zeus, one with the god changing himself into a bull and the other with him changing his mistress into a cow. Another story associates Taurus with the Cretan Bull.

Triangulum
Symbolism: Triangle
IAU Abbreviation: Tri
Season: Fall
Brightest Main Star: +3.0
Observing: Look for the small triangle of stars between Aries and Andromeda.
Story: Unlike many classical constellations, there is no real story associated with this constellation as it seemed to be named for its shape alone.

Ursa Major
Symbolism: Large Bear
IAU Abbreviation: UMa
Season: Circumpolar (Spring is best)
Brightest Main Star: +1.7
Observing: Look for the familiar Big Dipper, contained within the constellation, in the Northern sky. Use a start chart to fill in the rest of the outline's dim stars.
Story: In Roman mythology, Jupiter was having an extramarital affair with a woman named Callisto. Hera, Jupiter's wife then transforms Callisto into a bear. Callisto's son, Arcas, then encounters his mother in bear form and is about to shoot her with an arrow when Jupiter, to avert tragedy, transforms him into a bear and places both of them in the sky. Callisto becomes Ursa Major and Arcas Ursa Minor.

Ursa Minor
Symbolism: Small Bear
IAU Abbreviation: UMi
Season: Circumpolar (any season)
Brightest Main Star: +1.9
Observing: Look for the familiar Little Dipper, contained within the constellation. To makethings real easy, the end of the Dipper's handle is Polaris, the North Star.
Story:In Roman mythology, Jupiter was having an extramarital affair with a woman named Callisto. Hera, Jupiter's wife then transforms Callisto into a bear. Callisto's son, Arcas, then encounters his mother in bear form and is about to shoot her with an arrow when Jupiter, to avert tragedy, transforms him into a bear and places both of them in the sky. Callisto becomes Ursa Major and Arcas Ursa Minor.

Virgo
Symbolism: Virgin
IAU Abbreviation: Vir
Season: Spring
Brightest Main Star: +0.9
Observing: To find Virgo, look for bright blue Spica, which is found by following the arc of the Big Dipper's handle to Arcturus and continuing the line to Spica.
Story: There are several stories concerning Virgo. In one of them, she was associated with the agriculture goddess. Another associates the constellation with the goddess of justice. Yet another identifies her as Erigone, Icarus of Athens' daughter.




Renaissance
Antila
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Apus
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Caelum
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Camelopardalis
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Canes Venatici
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Carina
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Chamaeleon
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Circinus
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Columba
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Crux
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Dorado
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Grus
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Horologium
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Hydrus
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Indus
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Lacerta
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Leo Minor:
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Lynx
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Mensa
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Microscopium
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Monoceros
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Musca
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Norma
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Octans
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Pavo
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Phoenix
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Pictor
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Puppis
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Pyxis
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Reticulum
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Sculptor
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Scutum
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Sextans
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Telescopium
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Triangulum Australae
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Tuscana
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Vela
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Volans
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Vulpecula
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Asterisms
Big Dipper
Little Dipper
Spring Triangle/Diamond
Summer Triangle
Great Square
Winter Hexagon
Orion's Belt
The Sickle
The Keystone
The Teapot
Job's Coffin
The Circlet



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