A constellation is a group of stars that are considered to form imaginary outlines or meaningful patterns on the celestial sphere, typically representing animals, mythological people or gods, mythological creatures, or manufactured devices. The 88 modern constellations are formally defined regions of the sky together covering the entire celestial sphere.

Origins for the earliest constellations likely goes back to prehistory, whose now unknown creators collectively used them to related important stories of either their beliefs, experiences, creation or mythology. As such, different cultures and countries often adopted their own set of constellations outlines, some that persisted into the early 20th Century. Adoption of numerous constellations have significantly changed throughout the centuries. Many have varied in size or shape, while some became popular then dropped into obscurity. Others were traditionally used only by various cultures or single nations.

The Western-traditional constellations are the forty-eight Greek classical patterns, as stated in both Aratus’s work Phenomena or Ptolemy’s Almagest — though their existence probably predates these constellation names by several centuries. Newer constellations in the far southern sky were added much later during 15th and mid-18th century, when European explorers began travelling to the southern hemisphere. Twelve important constellations are assigned to the zodiac, where the Sun, Moon, and planets all follow the ecliptic. The origins of the zodiac probably date back into prehistory, whose astrological divisions became prominent around 400BCE within Babylonian or Chaldean astronomy.[3]

In 1928, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) ratified and recognized 88 modern constellations, with contiguous boundaries defined by right ascension and declination. Therefore, any given point in a celestial coordinate system lies in one of the modern constellation. Some astronomical naming systems give the constellation where a given celestial object is found along with a designation in order to convey an approximate idea of its location in the sky. e.g. The Flamsteed designation for bright stars consists of a number and the genitive form of the constellation name

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6 comments on Constellations

  • Helen says:

    RS, I still love to look at the stars even at my age. Some people feel the night sky makes them insignificant. I find it soothing and marvellous.

    Moving from the northern hemisphere many years ago, I was pleased to find Orion. Sort of an extra link to my childhood home.

    Now my vanishing point in the night sky is The Southern Cross in Crux. No matter where I start looking I end up there!.

    Being way down under in Tasmania Australia we also have the pleasure of the southern night sky stars dimming and the Aurora Australis taking over. Now that is a sight to see.

    I have visited your site before and still find it very full of interesting stuff. Please continue to bring it on.


    • raven says:

      thanks for the comments Helen

      yes I will improve the constellations page soon, I hope to have added all 88 constellations soon. I laugh now because I used to find the big dipper in the sky, never knowing it was Orion and I too can see the southern cross but those are the only 2 I know at a glance, oh how I want to see the Aurora Australis   

      • Helen Doyle says:

        Raven, way back in 1986 when Halley’s comet visited we took our telescopes down to the cliff over Maroubra Beach to take a look. We were sorely disappointed and reports say that was the most disappointing visit ever. But we did have fun looking at Saturn. You here of the rings but seeing them is so much better.


        • raven says:

          my dad had a telescope but because we had no real idea what we where doing we only really focused on the moon, which while interesting in it’s own way it wasn’t that big of a deal. but I hope to own my own telescope one day, and go in to place like central Australia or places in Canada where you can really get a good sky view. looking at Saturn did you try to find Jupiter as well?

  • Ed says:

    Wonderful website. The Universe is so vast and there are so many interesting objects in space that it is difficult keeping track of all the new discoveries.
    Do you think there is extraterrestrial life, similar to that on Earth?
    Thanks for all the great information, please keep adding new items, I’ll definitely come back for more.

    • admin says:

       I would have to say YES to the ET part here, simply because life is to random not for it to happen , I mean even here on earth we have bacteria that can live in sulfur atmosphere of volcanos, and creature that survive the crushing pressures of the deep ocean, so yes life can exist out there,  I mean you have hundreds of million of planet to choose from all with different environments to possibly to live in 

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