June 25, 2017

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Fornax – the furnace

The constellation Fornax is one those created by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in the mid 1700’s to commemorate the enlightenment’s greatest hits. It represents the little furnaces that chemists use in the laboratory to cook things you shouldn’t eat. I’m sure you can order one on Amazon or maybe talk to your local meth dealer. […]

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June 18, 2017

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Gemini – the twins

The constellation of Gemini represents the twin sons of Jupiter, whose names are Castor and Pollux. Those two boys are also represented by the bright stars that are drawn as the heads of the figures when you connect the dots. Ptolemy added Gemini to his maps a couple of thousand years ago when he was […]

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June 11, 2017

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Grus – the crane

The constellation Grus represents a crane. Please note that we mean the large gangling-legged fish-eating bird, not the big load-lifting construction machine. We’re basically talking three stars here so you can sketch just about anything with a bit of imagination. The brightest stars are named after parts of a fish because the area was carved […]

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June 4, 2017

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Hercules – the hero

Hercules is a major constellation and its story goes all the way back to when the ancient Greeks did a major reboot of Gilgamesh. Ptolemy included Hercules in his collection a couple thousand years ago which is how I heard about it. Hercules was a magnificent bastard. His father was a god which right away […]

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May 28, 2017

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Horologium – the clock

The constellation Horologium represents a clock and usually is portrayed as one of the old-timey types. Nicolas Louis de Lacaille created it and drew it as a grandfather hall clock with a pendulum and weights. Lacaille added 14 constellations to the map in an effort to flesh out the southern sky. In general he used […]

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May 21, 2017

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Hydra – the water snake

The largest of all 88 constellations is called Hydra, the water snake. It’s huge. It forms a line that wraps around the sky all the way from the stars of Cancer to those of Libra. If you go out and see the toothy business end just starting to rise in the east, you will wait […]

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May 14, 2017

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Hydrus – the male water snake

There is a southern constellation called Hydrus which is not to be confused with the constellation Hydra. They are both water snakes but Hydrus it the lesser water snake in both size and mythical importance, and also it is male. Having two slithering sky serpents confirms the old adage that “snakes travel in pairs” which […]

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May 7, 2017

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Indus – the indian

The source of the name for the constellation Indus is a bit confusing. Many say it celebrates the indigenous tribes of the Americas. But there is some indication it originally referred to tribes in Madagascar. There are also indications it’s about the tribes of the East Indies, or maybe Africa. Petrus Plancius added it to […]

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April 30, 2017

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Lacerta – the lizard

There is a small constellation near Cassiopeia which looks like her but is a smaller “W” shape. It is Lacerta, which means lizard. It is considered part of the Perseus Group even although there is no lizard in that story. Johannes Hevelius named it in the late 1600’s, I guess because it just sounded cool […]

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April 23, 2017

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Leo – the lion

The constellation Leo shows up in the early spring, when frogs wake up, the crocuses start blooming, and pudgy old guys begin meandering around Lowes in cargo shorts and birkenstocks. These stars dominate the spring sky the way Orion dominates the winter. In the weeks before the equinox Leo begins leaping up from the eastern […]

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April 16, 2017

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Leo Minor – the smaller lion

There is a constellation called Leo Minor that represents a lesser lion, just north of regular Leo. Johannes Hevelius added it in 1687. He sort of squeezed it in between Leo and the Big Dipper where there was a bit of unoccupied interstitial space. It’s like how Idaho was formed from the leftover region created […]

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April 9, 2017

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Lepus – the hare

Lepus is a constellation that represents a hare, which is basically a rabbit with longer legs and ears. It’s located right beneath Orion, dangerously close to being stepped on, and dangerously close to his two dogs. The brightest star in Lepus is named Arneb, which means “hare” (no surprise there). It’s expected to explode at […]

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