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  • Elizabeth Cocking

Did you know? - the constellations

This month we feature …. The Constellations (latin for “set of stars”)

There are 88 constellations in the western astronomy night sky (other cultures have different constellations). The largest constellation, Hydra the sea serpent, takes up 3% of the sky, the smallest is Crux the Southern Cross which takes up 0.17% of the sky. Scorpius was very clear in the sky during our May telescope viewing night as shown in the photograph above taken by Barry Ion. It has a red giant star called 'Antares' at the scorpion's heart.

The stars in some constellations form patterns. These are known as asterisms, examples are The Big Dipper and The Teapot.

Of the 88 constellations:

22 begin with the letter “C”

42 are named after animals

29 are named after objects

17 are named after humans or mythological characters

Take a look at how the constellations look now. Because they are made up of stars which travel along their own pathway, in thousands of years they will look completely different from what we see today !

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