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Capricornus – the sea goat

November 19, 2017

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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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Carina – the keel

November 12, 2017

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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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Cassiopeia – the queen

November 5, 2017

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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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Centaurus – the centaur

October 29, 2017

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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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Cepheus – the king

October 22, 2017

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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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Cetus – the whale

October 15, 2017

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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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Chamaeleon – the chameleon

October 8, 2017

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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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Circinus – the compass

October 1, 2017

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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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Columba – the dove

September 24, 2017

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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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Coma Berenices – Berenice’s Hair

September 17, 2017

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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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Corona Australis – the southern crown

September 10, 2017

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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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Corona Borealis – the northern crown

September 3, 2017

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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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