The Ursa Major Family
- The constellation Ursa
Major (Great Bear)is certainly one of the most famous constellations;
it includes the familiar asterism
Big Dipper (the Britsh call it the Plow, the Wain or the Wagon; in
German it is known as the "Große Wagen"). Ursa Major is an excellant
staring point to explore the night sky.
- The group of stars, which form the
the Little Bear is often called Little Dipper for its form strongly reminds one
on an oldfashioned cream ladle or gravy spoon.
- One of the very few constellation, who really resembles the figure it
was named after, is Draco,
- The constellation of the
, the Hunting Dogs, consists of two bright stars. A modern view is,
that these two "dogs" are hunting the Great Bear.
- The Bear Driver
Boötes is sometimes called the Herdman. It lies south
and east of the Great Bear.
- The constellation
Coma Berenice has it name after the beautiful Egyptian
Queen Berenice, i.e. after the shorn locks.
- A wonderful circlet is being formed by
, lying between Boötes and Hercules.
- In a region where stars are few the constellation of
(the Giraffe) can be found.
- Lynx (the Lynx),
likewise in a barren region, forms a sort of fence in front of the Great Bear.
- North of the constellation Leo lies the
the Smaller Lion.
The last three constellations are modern astronomical images providing
identification for a few fainter stars unattacged to the older groups.
The Zodiacal Family
As the name implies belong to this familiy the twelve constellations of the
zodiac. There is a nice rhyme
to memorize these constellations.
(One remark here: Actually, nowadays there are two more constellation through which the
sun passes along the ecliptic: Ophiuchus and Cetus, the Whale.)
- Looking like the king of beasts is the constellation of
Leo, the Lion; it
forms an arched mane.
- South of Coma Berenice lies the group forming
- The stars of
Scale, remind of the claws of an old scale.
- On the edge of the Milky Way there can be the realistic form of the
the Scorpion, be found.
the Archer, represents a Centaur holding an bow.
the Water Carrier, and
the Fishes, occupy a region of the sky which is largely devoted to water
creatures of the sea.
- According to greek mythology an expedition of the Argonauts went out to
get the golden fleece of the
Aries, the Ram.
- With its long curved horns and its bright red eye (the star Aldebaran)
the constellation of
Bull, is most impressive in the sky. The Bull moves continuously away from the
advancing Hunter Orion.
- The Twins
are again a reference to the greek mythology. The both leading stars
are named Castor and Pollux after the twin sons of Zeus.
- The constellation
Crab, is not only part of the Zodiacal Family but as well associated with the
The Perseus Family
- The heavenly W, the constellation
(sometimes called "The Lady of the Chair) is one of those constellations which
can be easily found in the northern sky. In the latidude of Central Europe
it appears nearly in the zenith.
- Cepheus, the
royal consort of Cassiopeia, lies to the north and west of the Lady.
- The body of
extends approximately parallel to the Milky Way.
- Like the Cancer the Whale
does not only belong to just one family. It also belongs to the family
- The Charioteer
- A inconspicuous modern group is that of the Lizard
Its lying between Cepheus on the north and Pegasus on the
- Some nce starfields can be found in the constellation
- Named after the mythological figure the constellation
shows the strongest man kneeling on the head of draco holding a bow in the
- The Arrow Sagitta
flies from this bow in the direction of Aquila, Lyra and Cygnus.
- The Eagle Aquila.
- Lyra, the
Lyre, has a distinctive geometrical form consisting of a parallelogram an an
- The constellation
Swan, is also known as the "Northern Cross".
- South of the Swan lies
- One of the largest constellations is
- The modern goup
- The Cup (of Bacchus ?)
- the Crow
are located between the Sea Serpent and the zodiacal groups Lion and Virgin.
- The Serpent Holder
is busily struggling with the
- Scutum, the
Shield, together with Sagittarius and Centaurus are spectacular to view.
- Another creature of the legends about Hercules is the
- The group of stars forming the
Wolf, seems to have undergone several transformation in history.
- The Southern Crown
- The Altar
- the Southern Triangle
lie on the outhern fringe of the Milky Way.
- One of the most conspicous constellations of the southern hemisphere is
build from the 4 bright Magnitude stars forming the famous Soutern Cross
The Orion Family
- Followed by his two dogs the giant
is struggling against the Bull. Orion is certainly one of the most striking
figures in the sky.
- The Larger Dog
- The Smaller Dog
- Behind Orion there comes the Unicorn,
galopping towards him.
- Located beneath Orion is the small constellation of the Hare,
- The Doplhin
the Little Horse, are lying between Pegasus and Aquila.
- Near the star Rigel (beta Ori) the river
is flowing toward the bright star Archenar (alpha Eri).
- Pisces Austrinus, the
The great ship Argo has been divided into the following four constellations:
- Carina, the
- Puppis, the
- Vela, the
- Pyxis, the
- Near the stern of the ship flies the Dove
The Bayer Group
The following constellations got their name from the astronomer Johann Bayer
(early 17th century). He followed the tradition and gave them names related
to sea creatures:
- Hydrus, the
- Dorado, the
- Volans, the
- Apus, the
Bird of Paradise.
- Pavo, the
- Grus, the
Crane, lying south of the Southern Fish.
- Phoenix, the
- Tucana, the
- Indus, the
- South of the Keel lies the
Chameleon - extending its tongue to the neighboring minor constellations.
- Musca, the
Fly. Originally Bayer had designed it as a bee and it was changed somewhen
In order to fill the star poor regions between the Bayer Group and the other
families the astronomer La Caille (well known for his
nebulous objects) conceived the
following 13 constellations.
He broke with the tradition and gave them scientific names (with one
- Norma, the
- Circinus, the
- Telescopium, the
- Miscroscope, the
- Sculptor, the
- Fornax, the
- Caelum, the
- Horologium, the
- Octans, the
- Mensa, the
Table Mountain (the Table Mountain at Capetown was the site of La Caille's
- Reticulum, the
- Pictor, the
- Antlia, the
C. Kronberg --- 96/08/05 ---
smil at clell.de