Tag Archives: constellations

Draco – the dragon

July 16, 2017

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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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Mensa – the table

March 5, 2017

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Mensa means “table.” It is also the name of a southern constellation mapped out by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille. Originally Lacaille meant for this area of the sky to be named “Table Mountain” after a place in Africa near Cape Town. People casually shortened the name to just Table and also shortened Nicolas Louis de […]

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Microscopium – the microscope

February 26, 2017

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Having named one southern constellation after a telescope, Lacaille named another after the microscope. The two star groups are beside each other. It seemed only right since each of these inventions expanded our level of consciousness by orders of magnitude, albeit in opposite dimensions of space. From sub-atomics to the multi-verse, the science of optics […]

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Ophiuchus – the serpent bearer

January 22, 2017

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The constellation of Ophiuchus represents a big guy who figured out how to kill snakes and then bring them back to life. He figured if it worked on snakes it should work on humans too. The gods killed him of course, because they’re gods and that’s what they do. Here’s a bit of trivia for […]

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Orion – the hunter

January 15, 2017

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After the Big Dipper, Orion is easily the most known and the most pointed out constellation by the people who recognize at least some of them. There is the obvious belt, although Orion lived BP (Before Pants) so he wears a short skirt, or kilt or such, and below that hangs his big, um sword. […]

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Pegasus – the winged horse

January 1, 2017

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One of the bigger autumn constellations is in the Perseus group, Pegasus. It’s just the front half of a horse, and the wings of course. These figures in the sky are not always the whole figure, sometimes it’s half. It’s good that they chose to use the front half of the horse because if they […]

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Piscis Austrinus – the southern fish

November 27, 2016

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The autumn sky includes the constellation of Piscis Austrinus, which is currently distinguished from neighboring Pisces Not-Austrinus with the convenient moniker Austrinus which means “Southern.” At one time many folks referred to these stars as being “The Great Fish” as opposed to being a “Not-So-Great Fish” I guess. The stars of Piscis Austrinus are pretty […]

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Pyxis – the compass box

November 13, 2016

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Pyxis is a constellation in the southern sky that honors the mariner’s compass. Short of the Internet itself, few things have shrunk our world like a free-floating magnetized needle. The constellation is basically just three stars in a line and over the centuries star maps have shown it as various things, usually something nautical because […]

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Sagitta – the arrow

October 30, 2016

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Sagitta is a tiny constellation whose dots actually connect to make an arrow, complete with fletching feathers. It’s one of the older names for a group of stars but then the bow and arrow as a weapon goes way back, probably invented more than 60,000 years ago. So the constellation must have been named sometime […]

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Taurus – the bull

September 11, 2016

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The constellation Taurus is one of the oldest and most famous of the sky-critters. There are indications that folks associated these stars with a bull all the way back to the copper age, which is really just the bronze age before the upgrade. But great starlore doesn’t typically happen all of a sudden because things […]

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Telescopium – the telescope

September 4, 2016

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Nick Lacaille named a constellation Telescopium in order to honor a specific telescope, the one at the Paris Observatory. But then the heavenly borders got all rearranged and they had to cut off the top of the scope as Nick had drawn it. So as a result they had to use different stars for the […]

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Tucana – the toucan

August 14, 2016

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The southern constellation of Tucana was named after a colorful South American bird in the late sixteenth century by Petrus Plancius. It is small but important. It contains some of our best examples of cosmic real estate, a dwarf galaxy and a globular cluster, both orbiting the Milky Way. Firstly, there’s the Small Magellanic Cloud. […]

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