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Constellations and Asterisms

Constellations are patterns of stars visible to the unaided eye, or regions of space seen from Earth that are bounded by borders designated by the International Astronomical Union. Asterisms are also naked-eye star patterns, but they do not form constellations on their own. An example is the Big Dipper, which is part of Ursa Major. Americans know northern hemisphere constellations by the names given them by ancient Babylonians and Greeks. Seafaring explorers named those in the southern hemisphere. Every culture created its own constellations, although most of those in use today came from western sources.


Cancer, the Crab

Cancer, the Crab October 4, 2011

Pisces, the fish

Pisces, the Fish October 4, 2011

Aries, the ram

Aries, the Ram October 4, 2011

Aquila, the Eagle

Aquila, the Eagle May 25, 2010

Radio Programs

Celestial Sea Setting sail on the celestial sea September 23, 2019

Crow and Cup The dangers of unripe figs April 26, 2019

Puppis A leading star without a leading name April 6, 2019

Spring Stars Leaping into next spring October 7, 2018

Ghosts The ghosts of bygone constellations April 15, 2018

The Argo Sailing across the southern sky April 9, 2018

Caelum Chiseling out a faint constellation February 3, 2018

Aries Drawing celestial borders December 26, 2017

Fornax Science and death in the night sky December 18, 2017

The Crane A crane strides across the southern sky November 12, 2017

Sailing Along Sailing across the celestial sea October 29, 2017

Drawing Stars Drawing some ancient constellations October 25, 2017

Scutum A stellar coat of arms September 24, 2017

Double Bright The leading lights of Pegasus July 29, 2017

Lynx Looking for a faint cat May 25, 2017

Moon in the Middle Bright stars around the Moon February 7, 2017

Fornax Firing up a celestial furnace January 19, 2017

Cepheus Recording ancient constellations October 25, 2016

Leo Minor Stars without much flash June 8, 2016

Pyxis and Antlia Going high-tech in the night sky — after this. April 13, 2016

Big Dipper Clock Ticking off the hours of the night January 22, 2016

End of the River A river that ends twice January 17, 2016

Winter Circle Circling around the winter sky December 26, 2015

El Nath Sharing a bright star December 20, 2015

Sculptor Looking into a galactic well December 10, 2015

Stairsteps Stepping up the evening sky July 11, 2015

Moon in Balance Bringing a constellation into balance May 30, 2015

The Crow A confusing layout for a faint constellation May 16, 2015

Starry Spokes Circling the hub of the northern sky May 14, 2015

Hercules Handing down pictures of the stars May 10, 2015

El Nath Location, location, location May 2, 2015

The Hunting Dogs A pair of hunting dogs without much bite March 15, 2015

Camelopardalis Spotting a spotted constellation March 13, 2015

Monoceros Creating a celestial unicorn February 8, 2015

Winter Circle A brilliant ring around the Moon January 29, 2015

Quadrantid Meteors The changing landscape of the sky January 1, 2015

Featured Images

Hydra and surrounding constellations

A Long Story April 26, 2019

Lynx in the west, late May

Faint Cat May 25, 2017

The constellation Corvus, near brilliant Spica

Sailing On May 17, 2015

The Great Square of Pegasus

Double Duty September 12, 2013

Phoenix and Grus in the southern sky, late November evening

Rare Birds November 28, 2011