Kingston, NY 12401, USA
Thursday 24th of October 1985 07:00 AM
Andromeda, the Ethiopian princess who was the wife of Perseus, the Greek hero. This constellation was first catalogued by Ptolemy, the ancient Greek astronomer who lived in the 2nd century AD. 3 of the stars of Andromeda are located within 10 parsecs (which equals 32.6 light years) of Earth. Andromeda's mother offended the sea nymphs saying she was more beautiful. In order to appease the gods, Andromeda was chained, only to be saved by Perseus.
Canis Major, the bigger dog. It is supposed to be a dog following Orion, the hunter from Greek mythology. He is accompanied by a smaller dog, the constellation Canis Minor, which is the neighboring constellation. Canis Major was given its name by Ptolemy, the most famous Greco-Roman astronomer. Within this constellation we can find Sirius, the brightest star in our night sky. You can spot Canis Major in the skies of the southern hemisphere at latitudes between +60 degrees and -90 degrees.
Canis Minor, Latin for smaller dog. Just like his big brother, Canis Major, this constellation represents a dog following Orion. Both constellations were created by the ancient astronomer Ptolemy. Another Greek legend identifies Canis Minor with Maera, the dog of winemaker Icarus who jumped off a cliff after friends killed Icarus by mistake. Canis Minor contains Luyten’s Star. This star is one of the nearest stars in the galaxy, from our perspective. It’s only 12.2 light years away.
Cassiopeia, queen of Ethiopia. This is one of the many constellations that was named by Ptolemy, the ancient astronomer who lived in the 2nd century AD. Cassiopeia is easy to recognise, as she has a clear W shape in the skies. Cassiopeia was the wife of King Cepheus, who has his own constellation. She was known for being very vain and acclaimed to be more beautiful than the sea nymphs. As a punishment, a whale was sent and the king and queen had to sacrifice their daughter Andromeda, who was rescued by Perseus.
Cepheus was the Ethiopian king who married Cassiopeia. His daughter was Andromeda, who they sacrificed after Cassiopeia had incurred the wrath of the gods with her vanity. Both Cassiopeia and Andromeda are neighboring constellations. Cepheus was named by Ptolemy, the famous ancient astronomer. Within this constellation you will find Garnet Star, which is one of the largest stars known in the Milky Way galaxy. Cepheus is found in the northern hemisphere.
Cetus or whale in Latin. This constellation can be found in a group of constellations with names dealing with water, such as Aquarius and Pisces. It was named by Ptolemy, the Greco-Roman astronomer who lived in the 2nd century AD. Cetus was the whale sent out to kill Andromeda, the Ethiopian princess who was being sacrificed by her mother and father only to be rescued by Perseus who she later married. Cetus also happens to be a large constellation, ranking fourth with an area of 1231 square degrees.
Columba which is Latin for dove. The original name of this constellation is Columba Noachi, after Noah’s dove which signalled that the sea level was dropping. It was given this name by Petrus Plancius, the Dutch astronomer from the early 17th century. Columba is the 54th constellation out of the 88 in size. You can find this constellation in the first quadrant of the southern hemisphere between the latitudes +45 degrees and -90 degrees. Gliese 218 is the nearest star in Columba, at a distance of 48.9 light years.
Cygnus, the Latin word for swan. Cygnus is easily recognised as it hosts a famous asterism called the Northern Cross. This constellation was given its name by Ptolemy, the most famous astronomer from the Greco-Roman world. With 804 square degrees it occupies the 16th place in the ranking of largest constellations. Cygnus has at least 10 stars with planets. The constellation represents the swan Orpheus turned into after dying. The swan was placed next to a lyre, represented by the constellation Lyra.
Draco. This is Latin and it means dragon. It was the ancient Greco-Roman astronomer Ptolemy who gave Draco its name in the 2nd century AD. Draco ranks 8th in the list of biggest constellations, occupying 1083 square degrees. This constellation has 9 stars with planets. According to the myth, Draco represents Ladon. This dragon guarded the golden apples in the gardens of Hesperides. This is linked to 1 of the 12 labours of Hercules, which is a neighboring constellation
Eridanus. This is the Greek name of the river Po in Italy. Originally, this constellation was called Srotaswini, which is Sanskrit for torrent or stream. Eridanus is usually depicted as the river flowing away from Aquarius. This constellation was first catalogued by Ptolemy, the Greco-Roman astronomer from the 2nd century AD. Ranking sixth largest constellation, Eridanus occupies 1138 square degrees in the first quadrant of the southern hemisphere.
Fornax is Latin for furnace. This constellation was given its name by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille, the French astronomer from the 18th century. With only 1 star brighter than magnitude 4.0, Fornax is quite an obscure constellation. Originally, the name that was given was Fornax Chemica, named after the chemical furnace used for experiments. It was British astronomer Francis Bailey who shortened it to Fornax in 1845. Fornax ranks 41st in the list of largest constellations.
Gemini or twins in Latin. This is one of the 12 zodiac constellations. Gemini represents the twins Castor and Pullox and was first mentioned by Ptolemy, the ancient Greek astronomer from the 2nd century AD. It was given this name because Gemini has 2 bright stars, called Castor and Pullox as well. With 514 square degrees, Gemini occupies the 30th rank as largest constellation. You can find it in the second quadrant of the northern hemisphere.
Lacerta which is Latin for lizard. This constellation was created by Johannes Hevelius, the Polish astronomer from the 17th century. Some people call Lacerta Little Cassiopeia as it has a distinct W shape just like Cassiopeia. Lacerta is much smaller though, occupying only 201 square degrees. This makes it the 68th largest constellation out of the 88. Originally, Hevelius gave Lacerta a different name, Stellio. This name wasn’t really used by others and so it was discarded over time.
Lepus is the Latin name for hare. This constellation lies under the feet of Orion in the northern hemisphere. This is why Lepus is often depicted as being chased by Orion or his hunting dogs represented in the constellation Canes Venatici. The constellation was first catalogued by the Greco-Roman astronomer Ptolemy, who lived about 1900 years ago. Lepus ranks 51st in the list of largest constellations and covers an area of 290 square degrees in the second quadrant of the northern hemisphere.
Lynx which means lynx in Latin as well. This constellation was created by the Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius in the 17th century. Although it is a Latin name for an animal, there is no mythological backstory to Lynx. Between Auriga and Ursa Major, there was quite the gap filled with stars, so Hevelius created a constellation out of those stars. With 545 square degrees in the second quadrant of the northern hemisphere, Lynx comes in at place 28 in the list of largest constellations.
Monoceros named after the fantasy animal the unicorn. This constellation was created by the Dutch astronomer Petrus Plancius after gathering information from Dutch navigators in the 17th century. Monoceros is named quite appropriately. It is a Latin name, and the constellation looks like an animal with a horn. You can spot the unicorn star sign in the second quadrant of the northern hemisphere where it covers 482 square degrees. This makes it the 35th largest constellation.
Orion. This is one of the most famous constellations already known in ancient times. Orion is very important in Egyptian religion. It was long thought that the pyramids of Giza were built to reflect the position of the stars inside this constellation. Orion is so well known for such a long time because it is a very bright star sign; it has 2 of the 10 brightest stars in the sky. You can find this constellation in the first quadrant of the northern hemisphere. Orion is said to be a hunter, chasing the hare Lepus.
Pegasus is a winged horse. This animal appeared in Greek mythology. It was the famous Greco-Roman astronomer Ptolemy who named this constellation in the 2nd century AD. There are only 6 star signs larger than Pegasus; it covers an area of 1121 square degrees. You can find this constellation in the fourth quadrant of the northern hemisphere. According to the myth, Pegasus flew to Mount Olympus. After he was Zeus’ horse for a while, he became a constellation.
Perseus is a Greek hero in ancient mythology. This constellation is located next to Andromeda, the Ethiopian princess who he saved from getting killed by a whale. Her parents were sacrificing her to atone for her mother’s vanity. Perseus then married Andromeda and they lived happily ever after. You can find Perseus in the first quadrant of the northern hemisphere. It’s a large constellation that occupies 615 square degrees. Perseus was first catalogued by Ptolemy.
Taurus or bull in Latin. Taurus is one of the 12 zodiac constellations used for birth charts. Although Ptolemy, the Greco-Roman astronomer gave Taurus its Latin name in the 2nd century AD, the history of Taurus goes back to the Bronze Age. This makes Taurus one of the oldest constellations we know of. It is also quite big, it occupies 797 square degrees in the first quadrant of the northern hemisphere. There are 16 constellations larger that Taurus.
Triangulum is Latin for triangle. It was the famous Greco-Roman astronomer Ptolemy who gave this constellation its name in the second century AD. The three brightest stars in Triangulum form a triangular shape. The stars of this constellation cover an area of 132 square degrees in the first quadrant of the northern hemisphere. This makes Triangulum the 78th largest star sign. Originally, it was called Deltoton, after the Greek letter Delta, which has a triangular shape.
Ursa Major. This is one of the most well-known constellations. The name means bigger bear in Latin. It is the biggest constellation in the northern hemisphere, and the third largest of all the star signs. Part of Ursa Major is the asterism called Big Dipper. This is one of the clearest recognisable group of stars in the night sky.The bigger bear is so prominently present in the northern hemisphere that is was mentioned in Homer’s Iliad and the Bible. Lots of ancient civilizations have legends about this constellation.
Ursa Minor meaning the smaller bear in Latin. It was first mentioned like this by Ptolemy, the Greco-Roman astronomer who lived in the second century AD. Just like the bigger bear, this smaller bear is also a very well known constellation mainly because of its recognisable shape. The cluster of stars called the Little Dipper is one of the most distinguishable shapes in the northern hemisphere. It is also home of Polaris, the northern star. This star marks the true north, making it a very important star for navigation.
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