February 18, 2018

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Apus – the bird of paradise

The constellation Apus represents a Bird of Paradise. It gets its formal name from the Greek word “apous” which means “footless.” That’s pretty weird. The backstory begins with Magellan and his intrepid men. They took the first big trip around the earth in 1522, proving that if you can go far enough in this crazy […]

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February 11, 2018

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Aquarius – the water bearer

Aquarius is a constellation in the zodiac, the field of stars the sun plows through on its yearly trek. Here we have a constellation that is an excellent example of how a group of stars gets a name without connecting the dots. It was named by the Babylonians. In ancient Babylon, which is essentially Iraq, […]

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February 4, 2018

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Aquila – the eagle

Aquila (Latin for eagle) is a constellation that represents the eagle that carried Zeus’ thunderbolts around for him. Whenever Zeus wanted to thunderbolt something he would say “Hey Aquila, bolt me.” Aquila also carried the mortal Ganymede up to the heavens to serve as Zeus’ cup-bearer, so he was kind of an all-purpose personal support […]

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January 28, 2018

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Ara – the altar

The altar that the constellation Ara refers to is the one Zeus and his godly siblings built to swear allegiance to each other. It’s kind of weird, gods building an altar to themselves. But it was a special occasion. This was just before they went to war with Cronus and the other Titans. Earlier, Cronus […]

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January 21, 2018

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Aries – the ram

The constellation of Aries is pretty much just three dim little stars. A small flattened triangle, that’s it. Sorry if you identify Aries with your birthday, but that really is it. If you are looking to get the star pattern as a birth-sign tattoo, this one should be the cheapest. The Babylonians at first decided […]

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January 14, 2018

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Auriga – the charioteer

Auriga is a constellation with a multi-colored past. There are many stories and references here that have braided together over time. One thread is that the star pattern represents a brave charioteer, although precisely which charioteer is in question. If you connect the dots you get a pointy helmet like charioteers use to wear. One […]

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January 7, 2018

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Boötes – the herdsman

The constellation Boötes is usually called the herdsman but sometimes he is the plowman. Herding or plowing, free range cowboy or dirt farmer. It reminds me of the old Cain and Able conflict that depicts the rise of agriculture and the resulting social alternatives that civilization presented to the rural traditions. It’s not entirely different […]

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December 31, 2017

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Caelum – the chisel

Caelum is a constellation that was named in honor of the chisel one uses to chip away all of the stone which is hiding the artsy stuff one wants to reveal. It was introduced in the 1750’s by a guy named Nicolas Louis de Lacaille who was filling in blank spots on his sky maps […]

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December 24, 2017

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Camelopardalis – the giraffe

Camelopardalis is a very northerly constellation which represents a giraffe. I know it sounds like it should be a camel. If it helps, just imagine a camel where you pushed down on the hump and it made the neck stretch. Meanwhile try saying Camelopardalis over and over quickly. Wasn’t that fun? To the ancient Greeks […]

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December 17, 2017

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Cancer – the crab

Cancer is a constellation of the zodiac, which is the circle of animals defined by the yearly path of the sun. The zodiac is the oldest known method of finding ones way across the sky. Folks figured out a long time ago that the sun travels around a seemingly changeless, be-speckled sphere. There are thirteen […]

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December 10, 2017

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Canes Venatici – the hunting dogs

There are a couple of hunting dogs which together form the constellation Canes Venatici. The north dog is named Asterion (little star) and the south dog is named Chara (joy). If you are looking for weird dog names for your new puppy, there you go. The allegory caught on back in 1687 when a Polish […]

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December 3, 2017

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Canis Major – the greater dog

Canis Major is one of the several constellations in the sky that represent dogs. It’s the greater dog of the two near Orion. This constellation was handed down to us from Ptolemy a couple thousand years ago. Most of the time Canis Major is merely introduced as one of Orion’s two rabbit chasers. But there […]

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