Tag Archives: star map

Constellations

March 11, 2018

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The sky is divided into 88 parts. If you play connect-the-dots within these boundaries, some of the patterns resemble the names, but most were never meant to. Just like Washington State doesn’t look like George Washington. Click on the names below for a snarky review of the starlore of the constellations and the stuff we […]

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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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Ursa Minor – the little bear

July 31, 2016

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Ursa Minor, the lesser bear, is a very important constellation because it is home to Polaris, the north star. It is also home to the Little Dipper which is very easy to find once you’ve actually found it. If you don’t see it right away just nod and say “Yeah. yeah I see it” but […]

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Vela – the sails

July 24, 2016

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Way down there near the south pole there is a constellation named Vela, the sails. The sails use to be part of a bigger constellation called Argo Navis which included the whole ship. That’s how it was 2000 years ago when Ptolemy made star maps with many of the names we still use today. As […]

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Volans – the flying fish

July 10, 2016

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There is a tiny constellation near the southern pole of the sky named Volans, the Flying Fish. Unfortunately there is no cute little story here about a fish getting its wish to have wings or such. The only story we have is that this part of the sky was named by some Dutch guy named […]

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Vulpecula – the fox and the goose

July 3, 2016

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The Fox and the Goose is a small constellation in the night skies of summer. It sounds like a fairy tale but one of the gruesome sort where the fox murders some poor goose. Of course a fox has to eat too, and probably has to feed a whole den-full of cute little baby foxes. […]

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Autumn Bliss

June 16, 2013

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Capricornus the Seagoat The name Capricornus has been shortened to Carpricorn by some folks. But that is a very recent thing, like only in the last hundred years maybe. Either way, it means Seagoat. And Seagoat is the oldest known name still in use for anything in the whole sky. People have been calling these […]

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Summer Swelter

June 9, 2013

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Scorpius the Scorpion In the scorpion we find lots of bright stars that make an obvious fish hook shape, especially when you ignore the claws that the Romans surgically shortened in order to make Libra. In fact some natives of the south pacific call this constellation “Maui’s Hook.” You see Maui is one of the […]

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Spring Thaw

June 2, 2013

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Leo the Lion The big kitty is one of the few real connect-the-dots sort of allegories. It makes a reasonable stick figure of an animal at least. The Chinese call it the horse. It takes some imagination. If you try to connect the dots you may get something that looks like a coat hanger after […]

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Winter Beast

May 26, 2013

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Taurus the Bull Taurus is a bull, well half of a bull anyway. The front half. Actually mostly the head, with a shiny red eye. I think he’s been drinking. He’s charging Orion who appears to be perfectly prepared to defend himself from the assault. Orion also appears to have lost his pants but we […]

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