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Saturday 18th of February 2017 03:00 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.
Antlia is the Greek word for pump. It was given this name by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille. The full name is even Antlia Pneumatica, because the constellation resembles this machine according to de Lacaille. It’s a fairly tiny constellation, only ranking 62nd out of 88. Alpha Antliae is the brightest star in the constellation located at about 365 light years away. Antlia was first catalogued in 1763 in Coelum Australe Stelliferum, published after the death of Lacaille.
Boötes or herdsman in English. This constellation has been first mentioned by Ptolemy, the ancient Greek astronomer about 1900 years ago. It is quite a big constellation, ranked 13th with an area of 907 square degrees. In it you’ll find you’ll find Arcturus, the third brightest star in our skies. Boötes is said to drive (like a herdsman) the oxen of Ursa Major around the North Pole together with his 2 shepards dogs Asterion and Chara, which you can find in the Canes Venatici constellation.
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.
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.
Coma Berenices or Berenice’s hair in Latin. This constellation was named after queen Berenice II of Egypt. Ptolemy first mentioned Coma Berenices already in the 2nd century AD, but considered it an asterism (a small cluster of stars) in the constellation Leo. It wasn’t until the 16th century when Tycho Brahe, a Danish astronomer, decided to make Coma Berenices a constellation. Berenice II swore to Aphrodite that she would cut of her hair if her husband Ptolemy III Euergetes would come back safe from a dangerous mission.
Crater means ‘cup’ in Latin and it represents the cup of Apollo, the Greek god. This constellation was named by Ptolemy, the famous Greco-Roman astronomer of the 2nd century AD. The cup was needed for a ritual at the altar, so Apollo sends his raven, the constellation Corvus, out to get it. The raven takes its time and comes up with an excuse blaming a water snake, the constellation Hydra. Apollo sees through the lies and sends all 3 into the sky where they became constellations.
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
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.
Leo, Latin for lion. Leo is one of the 12 zodiac star signs. Like the other zodiac constellations, Leo was first documented by Ptolemy, the Greco-Roman astronomer from the 2nd century AD. With 947 square degrees, Leo is one of the biggest constellations in the northern hemisphere. It is suggested that Leo was already a known constellation in Mesopotamian times, going back as far as 4000 BC. In Greek mythology, Leo was the lion that Heracles killed during his first of twelve labours.
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.
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.
Pyxis is a compass used on ships. This constellation was created by the French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in the 18th century. Originally, Pyxis was part of a huge constellation called Argo Navis. This star sign was created by the Greco-Roman astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD and represented a mythical ship. De Lacaille thought it better to divide the ship into smaller constellations, using parts of a ship for their names.
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.
At Under Lucky Stars we make personal star charts of the constellations above a time and place chosen by you.