September 25, 2016

0 Comments

Serpens – the serpent

There is a rather unique constellation in the summer sky called Serpens, the serpent. What makes it special is that it is the only constellation that is divided into two parts. That is, the region of sky assigned to it is not contiguous. In between Serpens Caput (the head) and Serpens Cauda (the tail) is […]

Continue reading...

September 18, 2016

0 Comments

Sextans – the sextant

There is a small constellation smack dab on the celestial equator called Sextans. Don’t worry, it’s safe for work, although the sex part might get it snagged by parental filters, I wouldn’t know. It’s part of a group of constellations named in the 17th century in order to fill in some of the holes in […]

Continue reading...

September 11, 2016

0 Comments

altamirabull

Taurus – the bull

The constellation Taurus is one of the oldest and most famous of the sky-critters. There are indications that folks associated these stars with a bull all the way back to the copper age, which is really just the bronze age before the upgrade. But great starlore doesn’t typically happen all of a sudden because things […]

Continue reading...

September 4, 2016

0 Comments

Telescopium – the telescope

Nick Lacaille named a constellation Telescopium in order to honor a specific telescope, the one at the Paris Observatory. But then the heavenly borders got all rearranged and they had to cut off the top of the scope as Nick had drawn it. So as a result they had to use different stars for the […]

Continue reading...

August 28, 2016

0 Comments

Triangulum – the triangle

The constellation Triangulum is one of the few examples where the connect-the-dots thing really does resemble the name. I mean, it makes a pretty damn good triangle without resorting to your imagination. Even the ancient Babylonians couldn’t come up with a great name for these stars so their astro-geeks called it “the plow” which was […]

Continue reading...

August 21, 2016

0 Comments

Triangulum Australe – the southern triangle

There’s a barely noticed constellation down under called Triangulum Australe, the southern triangle. Connecting three dots to make a triangle is pretty much the minimum effort for making a star group. The first person to go to all that effort was an Italian named Amerigo Vespucci in the early 1500’s. He’s also the guy that […]

Continue reading...

August 14, 2016

0 Comments

Tucana – the toucan

The southern constellation of Tucana was named after a colorful South American bird in the late sixteenth century by Petrus Plancius. It is small but important. It contains some of our best examples of cosmic real estate, a dwarf galaxy and a globular cluster, both orbiting the Milky Way. Firstly, there’s the Small Magellanic Cloud. […]

Continue reading...

August 7, 2016

0 Comments

Ursa Major – the great bear

The Greater Bear, Ursa Major, is probably the most significant constellation in the northern sky because it contains the Big Dipper. The Big Dipper is a thing with a thousand names. It’s the most obvious and easiest to recognize of all the star groups. To the British it is the plow. To the Chinese it […]

Continue reading...

July 31, 2016

0 Comments

Ursa Minor – the little bear

Ursa Minor, the lesser bear, is a very important constellation because it is home to Polaris, the north star. It is also home to the Little Dipper which is very easy to find once you’ve actually found it. If you don’t see it right away just nod and say “Yeah. yeah I see it” but […]

Continue reading...

July 24, 2016

0 Comments

Vela – the sails

Way down there near the south pole there is a constellation named Vela, the sails. The sails use to be part of a bigger constellation called Argo Navis which included the whole ship. That’s how it was 2000 years ago when Ptolemy made star maps with many of the names we still use today. As […]

Continue reading...

July 17, 2016

0 Comments

Virgo – the maiden

virgo

Springtime is about Virgo and has been for a very long time. Thousands of years ago this constellation was known to many as The Seed Furrow but it eventually evolved into a lovely young fertile maiden, as in “spring brings all the boys to the furrow” (wink wink). Not that thee shall be beyond slut-shaming, […]

Continue reading...

July 10, 2016

0 Comments

Volans – the flying fish

There is a tiny constellation near the southern pole of the sky named Volans, the Flying Fish. Unfortunately there is no cute little story here about a fish getting its wish to have wings or such. The only story we have is that this part of the sky was named by some Dutch guy named […]

Continue reading...