Over thousands of years, generations of stargazers and astronomers from every culture have located and named the constellations known to humanity. We have been fascinated by space for so long that, amazingly, we may know more about space than our own Earth. Nevertheless, with newer technology, we are always learning more about far distant parts of our skies.
Constellations, and the planets and stars in them, fascinate scientists and make people curious. What follows is a quick exploration of constellations that are relatively close to Earth.
is a constellation known as The Princess. Although not the brightest constellation, it is easily seen with the naked eye. This constellation is long, narrow, and v-shaped. Its southern tip contains four very bright stars. The Princess constellation is sometimes confused with the Andromeda galaxy. In other words, Andromeda constellation shares its name with the galaxy where it is located.
is another large constellation. Although it is known in the United States as the Big Dipper, in England it is known as the Plough. The Big Dipper has for centuries, been used for navigational purposes. The second star in its handle is known as Mizar. This “star” is actually composed of two stars, Mizar and Alcor. These twins are just too close to tell at a great distance whether they are separate stars, which is why they go by one name.
is both a constellation and a Zodiac sign that appears on the ecliptic, south of the celestial equator. It is near four aquatic-named constellations—
. Aquarius lacks bright stars, although it does contain the colorful Saturn Nebula.
These constellations are only three intriguing examples of what has made people on Planet Earth wonder about the night sky.
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