Since ancient times people have tried to explain the night sky. A constellation is a group of stars. The groups are identified according to patterns that people have seen in the stars and they are simply ways that people have imagined the stars. Over thousands of years different cultures have seen different patterns in the stars. They have named many different constellations after familiar animals, everyday objects, and characters and beasts from stories.
Today constellations provide a connection between modern humans and ancient stories. Astronomers have named 88 constellations and they use them to help describe the location of specific stars.
There are 12 well-known constellations that lie in a band of space called the zodiac: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpius, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Pisces. Today astronomers have calculated that during the period from November 27 to December 17, there is one more zodiacal constellation on the horizon – Ophiuchus.
Nowadays people depend less on celestial bodies, but their study does not stop.
Earlier constellations were considered to be figures that form stars, and today these are parts of the celestial sphere with conditional boundaries and all celestial bodies in their territory. In 1930, the number of constellations was fixed – 88, and 47 of which were described before our era, but the names given to the stellar figures in antiquity are still used. By the end of the 17th century, atlases of the starry sky with descriptions of 22 new constellations were published.
Hydra is the largest of the star figures, it occupies 3.16% of the starry sky and is located in the northern and southern hemisphere.
The brightest stars of the northern hemisphere belong to Orion, 209 of them are visible to the naked eye. The most interesting space objects of this section of the sky are the Orion’s Belt and the Orion Nebula.
The brightest constellation of the southern sky and the smallest among all the existing clusters is the Southern Cross. Its four stars were used by sailors for orientation for several thousand years, the Romans called them the Throne of the Emperor, but as an independent constellation the Cross was registered only in 1589.
The oldest map of the constellations dates back to the 2nd century BC. It was created by Hipparchus of Nicaea and became the basis for the work of astronomers of later time.
Atlas of constellations – drawings and engravings by Johannes Hevelius