The Fringe | Conspiracy, News, Politics, and Fun Forum!

Full Version: How To Identify The Constellations
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.

[Image: Aquarius.jpg?interpolation=lanczos-none&downsize=660:*]

The three largest constellations are gracing the evening skies.

Hydra, the sea serpent; Virgo, the maiden; and Ursa Major, the big bear are visible in the night sky right now. Hydra lies mainly in the southwestern part of the sky, though the tip of the tail will not slither across the meridian, and eventually out of view, until 9:30 p.m. local time. Hydra spans more than one-quarter of the sky but has little to show besides mere length. 

The mythical creature's head is a pretty little group of five stars hovering low above the western horizon by nightfall. From there, if the sky is clear and dark, you can follow the scraggly stream of the snake's body. It goes southeastward below the sickle of Leo, past the gobletlike Crater; the Cup; and Corvus, the crow. Then, it heads south of the blue star, Spica, and on out of sight, almost as far as red Antares of summer. [See images of famous constellations in the night sky]

[Image: winter.gif]

Hydra's brightest star is a red, second-magnitude star named Alphard, which means "the lonely one."  Once you've found it, you'll understand why it's named as such. It actually seems brighter than it really is because it's in a large, dull region and has no competition nearby. Some say Hydra commemorates the fabled multiheaded serpent that gave the mighty Hercules so much trouble. Yet the celestial Hydra has only one head.

To the surprise of even some veteran stargazers, there is also another celestial water serpent — Hydrus — which can be found during autumn months not far from first-magnitude Achernar at the southern extremity of Eridanus, the river. Hydra is sometimes called the female water serpent and Hydrus the male water serpent.


Latin for “water carrier” or “cup carrier”
Best viewed in: October

While one of the biggest, most famous, and oldest named constellations, Aquarius is faint and often hard to find/see. In Greek mythology, Aquarius represented Ganymede, a very handsome young man. Zeus recognized the lad’s good looks, and invited Ganymede to Mt. Olympus to be the cupbearer of the gods. For his service he was granted eternal youth, as well as a place in the night sky.

[Image: oct02calead_l.jpg]


Latin for “eagle”
Best viewed in: late summer, September

Aquila was the eagle that in Greek mythology actually bore Ganymede (Aquarius) up to Mt. Olympus. The eagle was also the thunderbolt carrier for Zeus.

[Image: oldaquila.jpg]


Latin for “ram”
Best viewed in: December

Canis Major

Latin for “greater dog”
Best viewed in: February


No Latin meaning, it’s the name of a queen in Greek mythology
Best viewed in: November

Cassiopeia, in Greek mythology, was a vain queen who often boasted about her beauty. She was the mother of Princess Andromeda, and in contrast to other figures being placed in the sky in honor, Cassiopeia was forced to the heavenly realms as punishment. As the story goes, she boasted that her beauty (or her daughter’s, depending on the story) was greater than that of the sea nymphs. This was quite an offense, and she was banned to the sky for all to gawk at.

Cygnus (also known as the Northern Cross)

Latinized Greek for “swan”
Best viewed in: September


Latin for “twins”
Best viewed in: February


Latin for “lion”
Best viewed in: April


Latin for “lyre”
Best viewed in: August


Named for Orion, the mythological Greek hunter
Best viewed in: January

[Image: SouthSky.jpg]

Orion is one of the largest and most recognizable of the constellations. It is viewable around the world, and has been mentioned by Homer, Virgil, and even the Bible, making it perhaps the most famous constellation.

Orion was a massive, supernaturally gifted hunter who was the son of Poseidon. It was said he regularly hunted with Artemis (Goddess of the Hunt) on the island of Crete, and that he was killed either by her bow, or by the sting of the great scorpion who later became the constellation Scorpius.


Latin for “fish” (plural)
Best viewed in: November


Latin for “scorpion”
Best viewed in: July


Ursa Major

Ursa Minor


[Image: tXDn3q5.jpg]