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Constellations – Collection and Seasons

Aug 10, 2022


A constellation is a group of stars with a recognizable shape. They were discovered by ancient people who could recognize stars in the sky. They would relate the shapes of the constellations to objects familiar to them. The most famous constellation that can be seen during the early parts of summer nights is the Ursa Major, also called the Great Bear, the Big Dipper, or the Saptarshi. This constellation consists of several prominent stars and looks like a question mark or a big ladle. The handle of the ladle comprises three stars, while the bowl comprises four. 

A constellation has a diverse number of stars, not just five or ten stars that we can see. We can’t see the rest of its stars because the human eye can visualize only the brightest stars. Also, all the stars comprising the constellation do not lie at the same distance. It’s just that they are in the same line of sight in the sky. 


Zodiac Constellations

Twelve main constellations line up along the ecliptic, the path of the Sun along the sky, called zodiac constellations, twelve of which are also used in the zodiac astrology and calendar. The zodiac constellations include Taurus, Aries constellation, Crab/Cancer, Gemini, Virgo, Leo, Libra, Saggitarius, Scorpion, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Pisces. 

The zodiac constellations were used to track time and the movement of the Sun in ancient times. These constellations are arranged within a band about 20 degrees wide in the sky. The speciality of this band is that here the Moon, the Sun, and the planets are all in motion. 


The movement of the Earth through the heavens is closely determined by the twelve zodiac signs including the aries  constellation listed in the horoscope. These zodiac signs are based on the twelve zodiac constellations, which define the path of the Sun through the universe. Many people believe that the Sun crosses some constellations like the aries constellation at a certain time or date of the year, but it is not true. If the Sun, the Earth, and the stars are observed closely, it is revealed that the mystery of zodiac signs is more complex than we believe it to be.

As the Earth revolves around the Sun, it looks like the Sun is crossing different constellations. As the moon appears in a different position in the sky every night, the Sun’s position also moves to the East relative to the stars far away. The Sun actually is not in motion. It looks like it’s in motion due to the movement of the Earth around it.


Big Dipper

The big dipper comprises seven stars visible in the Northern Hemisphere. The constellations resemble a wheelbarrow in shape and form a part of a bigger constellation known as Ursa Major or (The Great Bear). In this constellation, two stars appear to be pointing toward the polar star or Polaris, which is the only night sky star that appears to be fixed and not moving east or west. This is because it lies directly above the axis of the Earth. 

Orion Constellation

The orion constellation has numerous bright stars in it and is also called ‘the hunter’. The “belt” of the hunter comprises three bright stars that are in line. These three stars point to Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. Sirius is the brightest star in the sky that lies close to the Orion constellation. If you want to locate it, try to imagine a straight line going through the three Orion middle stars. Follow this line towards the East and observe it carefully. It will lead you to the brightest star Sirius. 


Ursa Major 

The name Ursa Major is derived from a Latin word meaning “Larger Bear”. The Big Dipper is a part of this constellation and is often employed to find the “North” direction. 

Ursa Minor 

The name Ursa Minor is derived from a Latin word and means “Smaller Bear”. It lies near the Ursa Major and also looks like a small ladle known as the Little Dipper as a part of its larger pattern. 


Canis Major

Canis Major, also called ‘The Great Dog’, is a constellation energy that consists of Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. It lies at the top-right corner of the constellation. If you observe the sky carefully, you will be able to see the front and hind legs of this constellation, including its tail. Observe the horizon between the Southwest and the South for a bright star. If you are able to locate Sirius, you will be able to find the Canis Major. 


Also called ‘The Bull’, Taurus consists of six stars forming a small head. Aldebaran, the red star forms one eye, and three stars form two long horns that point up. A single star stretches toward the East to constitute its body. This star lies right next to the Pleiades, which is a cluster of bright blue stars. If you spot this constellation energy, you will also be able to spot the planet Venus as it is quite nearby. Inversely, if you find Venus, you can spot both the Pleiades and the Taurus nearby. The Taurus’s head can be seen halfway between the shield of Orion and the Pleiades. 


Gemini Constellation

Also known as” The Twins”, the Gemini constellation is also located with the help of Orion. It can be located above one of the sides of the raised arm of the hunter. The Gemini constellation appears as two stick figure twins with arms outstretched and touching each other. The rest of the parts of the constellation are easy to find. If observed carefully, you would see that both the twins have legs, torsos, and heads. It looks like the left twin has lifted one of its legs, like a small jig. 


This constellation energy can be seen in the Northern Hemisphere. The meaning of the Latin word “Draco” is “dragon”. It was part of the 48 ancient constellations. 



This constellation is named after a character from Greek mythology of the same name that looks like a flying horse. The Pegasus can be visualized in the northern sky.


Cassiopeia is named after a pretty but boastful queen. It is another major constellation located in the northern sky. It can be visualized during the early hours of the night in winter. It appears as a distorted letter M or W. 

Star Maps 

There are 88 different constellations that divide the night sky, and you can see that from the Earth. Star maps are out of the brightest stars and the patterns they form. This gives rise to the names of constellations. In other words, the star maps represent the position of the different stars in the sky as seen from the Earth. The stars may not be close to each other in each constellation. Some of them appear brighter than others as they are closer to the Earth. Others appear bright just because they are very large. 

Hemispheres and Seasons 

All the constellations are not visible from a certain point on Earth. Typically, the star maps are divided into those in the southern hemisphere and those in the northern hemisphere. What constellations are visible from your location on the Earth also depends on what season of the year it is. 

Uses of Constellations 

  • Constellations help people identify the stars in the sky. It is much easier to spot the stars and their locations by looking at their patterns. 
  • In the past, the knowledge of constellations was employed to keep track of the dates. This was very important information for people as they could determine the best time to cultivate and harvest crops.
  • Constellations were also used for navigation. It is quite easy to spot the North Star or Polaris by locating the Ursa Minor. Navigators could figure out their latitude by using the height of the North Star in the sky. This would help the ships to navigate across the oceans. 


The next time you look at the night sky and try to identify these constellations, remember that you can see them if you observe carefully, as they are bright enough to be easily found even in cities. You can also use a star chart to try and identify the zodiac constellations. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

1.What is a star?

A star can be defined as a celestial body that consists of a luminous plasma spheroid supported and held in place by its gravitational force. The star nearest to the Earth is the Sun.

2.What are some interesting facts about constellations?

  • Hydra is the largest constellation in the solar system by area. It constitutes 3.16% of the entire sky.
  • The crux is the smallest constellation in the solar system, constituting only 0.17 % of the sky.
  • Asterisms are small patterns of stars inside a constellation. For example, the Little Dipper and the Big Dipper. 
  • The meaning of the Latin term “constellation” is “set with stars”.
  • The names of at least twenty-two different constellations start with the letter “C”.

3. How many constellations are there in total?

There are 88 different constellations in the sky, including the 48 ancient constellations given by Ptolemy and 40 newly discovered constellations.



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