September 17, 2017

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Coma Berenices – Berenice’s Hair

Coma Berenices is a constellation whose name is from an actual historical figure, Queen Berenice II of Egypt, 266 – 221 BC. Not only was she a real queen, she was the original drama queen. In many ways this was the time of real-life games of thrones. For example, her first husband had an affair […]

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September 10, 2017

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Corona Australis – the southern crown

The constellation named Corona Australis, the southern crown, used to be named Corona Austrina. The International Astronomical Union, the same magnificent bastards whose hatred of Pluto led to its utter and complete humiliation, officially recorded the name as “Corona Austrina” in 1922. Back then each constellation was also given a four-letter abbreviation to be used […]

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September 3, 2017

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Corona Borealis – the northern crown

Corona Borealis is a constellation whose name translates to Northern Crown. It is easy to find, just a semi-circle of bright stars high in the summer sky. It does look kind of like a tiara I suppose. It’s a bit of expensive jewelry that once belonged to Princess Ariadne of Crete. You may remember from […]

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August 27, 2017

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Corvus – the crow

The constellation Corvus represents a crow. I sort of wish it was associated with a crow story from one of the American Indian tribes. The Indian stories about crows are so much more dignified, glorious even. Crows and ravens in the Americas are wise and always doing great things like stealing fire from the gods […]

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August 20, 2017

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Crater – the cup

Crater is one of the constellations passed down from the ancients to us via Ptolemy. Its brightest star Labrum, “the lip” (of the cup) is rather dim. The allegorical drawing is usually of the type of cup that has two opposing handles, for serious wine consumption. In the story, the god Apollo is taking a […]

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August 13, 2017

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Crux – the southern cross

Crux, the southern cross, started showing up on some constellation maps in the early 1600’s. It became accepted more or less officially in 1679 when Augustin Royer insisted on tearing Crux away from Centaurus, of which it was a part since ancient times. It’s just as well because Crux is one of the most easily […]

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August 6, 2017

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Cygnus – the swan

The constellation Cygnus is a large swan, flying southward along the summer plane of the Milky Way. There is a dark lane that separates the cloudy path of our galaxy into two parts here. It’s known as the Great Rift. Although it looks like a divided highway, the dark part is really a long cloud […]

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July 30, 2017

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Delphinus – the dolphin

Delphinus is a small summer constellation which represents a dolphin. It’s one on Ptolemy’s maps which means it goes way back. It looks like a kite. At some point in history a few brighter stars, the kite-ish part but disregarding the tail, came to be known as Job’s Coffin. Job you may remember is the […]

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July 23, 2017

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Dorado – the swordfish

The constellation Dorado is one of 12 constellations created by the Dutch astronomer Petrus Plancius, who liked to name stuff after exotic animals. The allegorical figure is usually drawn as a swordfish, even though the name itself is associated with dolphinfish. The name dolphinfish is associated with mahi mahi, and the name mahi mahi is […]

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July 16, 2017

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Draco – the dragon

Draco the dragon is a long, thin, dim, winding constellation that separates the two dippers. His neck curls back as though he is glancing behind, and his head is being stepped on by Hercules. According to the Romans, Draco was killed and placed in the sky by their goddess, Minerva. To the Greeks Draco was […]

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July 9, 2017

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Equuleus – the little horse

Equuleus is the ancient designation for this small constellation. Even Claudius Ptolemy included it on his maps as the little horse. It’s the second smallest constellation, the record for smallest being held by the southern cross. It’s usually drawn as just a horses head, sometimes peaking out from behind Pegasus. Maybe they’re related, on the […]

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July 2, 2017

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Eridanus – the river

Eridanus is a long narrow constellation winding like a river from Orion’s kneecap to points farther south. It is probably named after Eridu, an ancient city in old Babylonia. Over the ages various cultures have given it various names and backstories, almost all of them river-ish. At the southern end of Eridanus the bright blue […]

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