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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November 26, 2017

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Canis Minor – the lesser dog

The constellation Canis Minor is the lesser dog and it is essentially just two stars, Procyon and Gomeisa. So it’s like one of those wiener dogs I guess. Orion has a couple of dogs following him around the sky, one of your larger breeds, and the wiener. A lot of people do that. I’m not […]

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November 19, 2017

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Capricornus – the sea goat

The name of the constellation “Capricornus” has been shortened to Carpricorn by some folks. But that is a very recent thing, perhaps only in the last hundred years or so. Long or short, either way, it means Seagoat. And Seagoat is the oldest known name still in use for anything in the whole sky. People […]

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November 12, 2017

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Carina – the keel

Carina is one of three constellations that make up the Argo. That’s the ship that Jason and the Argonauts used to go fetch the golden fleece. Carina is a word that means “keel” but the constellation is more than that. It’s the main body of the ship. The three parts were one constellation until 1756 […]

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November 5, 2017

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Cassiopeia – the queen

The constellation Cassiopeia rises high in the autumn sky and represents the very beautiful queen of ancient Ethiopia. By all accounts men were mesmerized by her perfectly chiseled features, like she had really nice thighs and stuff. But this was before selfies so she spent most of her time sitting in a “W” shaped chair […]

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October 29, 2017

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Centaurus – the centaur

The constellation Centaurus is usually said to represent a particular man-horse dude named Chiron. He was a wise and helpful centaur, compared to most. He gave fatherly advice to Hercules, for example. But then with typically tragic fashion for Greek mythology, Hercules accidentally shot Chiron with a poisoned arrow. The poor guy was in a […]

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October 22, 2017

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Cepheus – the king

The constellation Cepheus represents the King of Aethiopia in the Cassiopeia-Andromeda-Perseus story. The myth mostly revolves around the ongoing struggle of religious discord that always comes with liberal upstarts challenging conservative church dogma. It happens that the old gods feel they aren’t getting the respect they are used to and send monsters to put the […]

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October 15, 2017

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Cetus – the whale

Cetus is a constellation that represents a whale. Remember “cetology” is the study of whales and dolphins and porpoises. The association between these stars and a whale goes way back. But then some ancient Greek astronomers came along and added the whole Andromeda-drama which involves a giant squidly sea monster known as the Kraken, so […]

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October 8, 2017

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Chamaeleon – the chameleon

The constellation Chamaeleon represents a chameleon, the color-changing lizard, so nothing lost in translation there. You do lose an “a” when you spellcheck it. This group of stars is as southern as you can go in the sky without being at the actual bottom. There is no Greek or Babylonian thing to go with this […]

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October 1, 2017

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Circinus – the compass

Circinus is a constellation named for the drafting compass, which is the thingy you use to draw perfect circles like Charlie Brown’s head. At first glance you probably thought Circinus was about the circus, but sadly, no. Navigators also use this sort of compass to measure and make marks on maps during long boring days […]

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September 24, 2017

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Columba – the dove

Columba is a constellation that was called Columba Noachi for awhile, which means “Noah’s Dove.” You recall I’m sure that Noah, at the ripe old age of 600, loaded his wife and his three sons and their wives and millions of animals into a boat with one little window. Yahweh himself closed the door. They […]

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