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2014-15 CHHS
Ursa Major is probably the
most famous constellation,
with the exception of
Orion. Also known as the
Great Bear, it has a
companion called Ursa
Minor, or Little Bear. The
body and tail of the bear
make up what is known as
the Big Dipper. Also called
names such as the Plough,
the Wain and even the
Wagon, this constellation
has a lot of history behind
Several different cultures
saw a big bear in the sky.
The ancient Greeks had a
few different stories to
explain how the animal
ended up there. In one
story, Hera
discovered Zeus was
having an affair
withCallisto and turned
her into a bear. Zeus put
her in the sky along with
her son, Arcas, who
became the Little Bear.
Ursa Major is full of unique
celestial objects. Two of the
stars, Dubheand Merak, are
pointer stars. If you are
looking at the Big Dipper, the
outer edge stars that make up
the "bowl" of the dipper are
the two stars, with Merak
being the one on top.
Connect a line between the
two, and extend it north a
distance about five times the
distance between them. It
will connect with the North
Star, Polaris.
. In one Greek myth, the star
represented the guardian,
Arcturus, who kept the bears
from straying from their path.
Above the head of the bear
are two galaxies, M81 and
M82. Both are 12 million light
years away, but M81 is one of
the brightest galaxies in the
sky. Finally, the Owl Nebula is
located to the lower left of
Dubhe. It is so named
because some photographs
reveal what looks like a pair of
Locate The Big Dipper
Ursa Major extends
forward and below The
Big Dipper
Ursa Minor, also called
the Little Dipper, is a
constellation. This
means it never sets in
the northern sky. The
true figure represented
by the stars is the Little
Bear. Its counterpart
is Ursa Major, or the
Great Bear.
There are several
mythological stories behind
these famous constellations.
In Greek myth, Zeus was
having an affair with the
lovely Callisto. When his wife,
Hera, found out she changed
Callisto into a bear. Zeus put
the bear in the sky along with
the Little Bear, which is
Callisto's son, Arcas. In other
myths, theconstellation is not
a bear at all, but is in fact a
Unfortunately, there aren't
as many interesting objects
in Ursa Minor as there are
in Ursa Major. Probably the
most important of all is the
last star in the tail. This
spot is held by the North
Star, Polaris. Many think it
is called the North Star
because it is very bright.
But actually, it is quite dim.
Instead, the name comes
from the fact that it doesn't
move from its spot in the
night sky.
There aren't any nebulae or star
clusters present in Ursa Minor.
There is a unique circle of stars
called the "engagement ring"
slightly below Polaris. They can
be viewed with binoculars or a
telescope. An easy way to find
Polaris is by using the pointer
stars. Dubhe and Merak make up
the right edge of the "bowl" in
the Big Dipper. Connect them
with a straight line and continue
north. You will run right into the
North Star.
Using the front two stars
of The Big Dipper as
pointer stars, locate the
North Star.
The North Star is the last
star in the handle of the
Little dipper (Ursa Minor)
Remember, the little
dipper always pours into
the cup of the Big Dipper
Cassiopeia was the wife of
King Cepheus. She was very
pretty, and would often brag
that she and her daughter were
more beautiful than the sea
nymphs, the Nereids. They
complained to Poseidon, who
sent a monster to Cepheus' land.
In order to save their country,
the king and queen sacrificed
their daughter,Andromeda. Just
before the monster,
named Cetus, ate the
princess, Perseus saved her. All
five figures are represented in
the sky as constellations.
Cassiopeia has a very
distinct shape. She looks
like a "W" or "M" in the
sky, depending on where
she is. Some legends say
that Cassiopeia was
chained into the sky and
sometimes hangs
upside-down to remind
others not to be so
Cassiopeia is a
northern circumpolar
constellation, so it can
be viewed all year long.
It is home to several
clusters, or groups of
stars. M52 is a large
cluster on the western
With a telescope, many
distant objects can be
spotted. There are a
few nebulae within
Cassiopeia, including the
Bubble Nebula and IC
1805. This nebula is
located just to the east of
the constellation. Finally,
a number of galaxies can
be spotted, including
NGC 185, which is a small
distance south of the
Starting from the
handle of the big
dipper, draw a line to
the North Star.
 Continue the line the
same distance from the
North Star to
Cepheus was king of a land
called Ethiopia in Greek
myth. He had a wife named
Cassiopeia and a
daughter, Andromeda. Cas
siopeia liked to brag about
her beauty so much, that
she said she and
Andromeda were more
beautiful than the Nereids.
Poseidon got very angry,
and sent a sea monster to
kill Cepheus and his family.
Andromeda was
offered as a sacrifice,
and just when the
sea monster was going
to eat
her, Perseus saved her.
All four people, along
with the monster, are
in the sky as
Cepheus looks like a
house. The point on top
is a special star called a
cepheid. These stars
are used to measure
long distances. Just
below the constellation
is another cepheid. This
red star would be the
North Star if we lived
on Mars.
There are several
galaxies, star clusters
and nebulae within
Cepheus. However,
most are very dim and
can only be seen with a
telescope. If you have a
telescope to use,
browse this old
constellation to find
many celestial objects.
Locate Cassiopeia
King Cepheus is the
“house” hovering
directly above her
Draco the dragon is a
, which means it revolves
around the North pole. It
can be seen all year
round. Draco is only
present in the Northern
Hemisphere, so those
living in the Southern
Hemisphere will never
see this long
The easiest way to spot
Draco is by finding his
head. It consists of four
stars in a trapezoid,
burning brightly just
north of Hercules. From
there, the tail slithers
through the sky, ending
between the Big and
Little Dippers. The end of
the constellation is held
by Thuban, which was
the pole star over 4,000
years ago.
Several galaxies and
even one nebula is
found within the
constellation. The Cat's
Eye Nebula is a favorite
among astronomers.
Many myths revolve
around this chaotic
dragon. It is said in
Greek myth that a
serpent named Ladon
guarded the golden
apple tree. One of the
twelve labors
of Hercules was to steal
apples from this wellguarded tree.
Draco snakes between
The Big Dipper, The
Little Dipper, and King
 Draco’s square head is
usually the most visible
part of The Dragon
Aquila, the celestial eagle, is
one of the three
constellations which have
bright stars forming the
Summer Triangle. A nearly
perfectly straight line of three
stars symbolizes part of the
wings. The center and
brightest of these three stars
is Altair. The tips of the wings
extend further to the
southeast and northwest. The
head of the eagle stretches
off to the southwest.
To the ancient Greeks, Aquila
was the servant of Zeus who
held the god's thunderbolts and
performed errands for him. He
may also be the great eagle who
devours Prometheus' liver as
punishment for giving fire to
humans. The line of three stars
which includes Altair is revered
by Indians as the footprints of
the god Vishnu. Some Asian
traditions see the bright
star Vega as the WeavingPrincess star who marries a
shephard, the star Altair.
Look for the three stars
Aquila’s wing low in the
Western sky.
Cygnus, the Swan, is also
known as the Northern
Cross because of its shape.
The tail of the swan is
marked by the bright
star Deneb, Arabic for
"tail". Three fainter stars
cross the line between
Deneb and the head of the
swan, Albireo. Cygnus flies
southward along the
summer Milky Way, and
into the Summer Triangle.
Deneb is a bright, blue
supergiant star, very young
as stars go. Albireo, the bill
of the swan, is actually two
stars which show a
spectacular amber and
blue contrast. Cygnus is
also sprinkled with a
variety of nebulae,
including the North
American Nebula and the
Veil Nebula.
The identity of Cygnus is
uncertain. He could
be Zeus in the guise in which
he seduced Leda, the mother
of Helen of Troy. In one myth,
Cygnus is a friend of
Phaethon, the son of Apollo,
the sun god. Phaethon fell
into the river Eridanus, trying
to drive the sun-gods chariot.
Cygnus dove repeatedly into
the water to search for
Phaethon. Out of pity, Zeus
turned the boy into a swan.
2 ways:
 Follow the three tail
feathers (stars) of Aquila
to the bill of the swan,
 Locate the bright star,
Daneb, that is the tail of
Cygnus, and follow the
path of stars to the bill of
Hercules, the great Greek
warrior, can be seen kneeling in
the sky for northern latitudes
throughout the Spring months.
Hercules first becomes visible in
the east in April, and works his
way high across the night sky
through October. From the
southern hemisphere, he
appears low in the north. Four
relatively bright stars form what
is commonly known as the
Keystone. Hercules' arms and
legs extend from this central
By far the most exciting
object to see in Hercules is
the magnificent globular
cluster M13, which is visible
in dark night skies even
without binoculars or a
telescope. This cluster of
300,000 stars appears as a
faint fuzzy spot to the
naked eye. It is located
between the stars which
form the western side of
the Keystone.
Many other constellations,
like Leo, the
Lion, Hydra, the nineheaded Serpent,
and Draco, the Dragon,
were unfortunate victims
of Hercules, and thus were
also placed in the
sky. Cancer, the Crab was
sent by Hera to annoy
Hercules in his battles, and
became yet another victim
of the hero.
Find Draco the Dragon
Hurcules’ foot is
stepping on Draco’s
Lyra, the Lyre, is a type
of small harp held in the
player's lap. The
brightest star in
Lyra, Vega, is placed in
the handle of the harp. A
small parallelogram of
four faint stars just to the
southeast of Vega outline
the harp itself. Lyra is
one of three
constellations whose
brightest stars form the
Summer Triangle.
Vega is a very bright star
(the fifth brightest in the
whole sky) and is very
close. Lyra is also home
to one of the brightest,
planetary nebulae, the
Ring Nebula. It can be
viewed with binoculars,
although it's distinctive
smoke-ring shape
According to Greek
mythology, the lyre was
invented by Hermes as a
child when he strung a
tortoise shell. He traded
the lyre to Apollo, who
then gave it to his son,
Orpheus, a great poet
and musician. Some
Asian traditions see the
bright star Vega as the
Weaving-Princess star
who marries a shepherd,
the star Altair.
The Lyrid meteor
shower happens in
April each year.
The meteors in the
Lyrid meteor shower
seem to shoot outward
the constellationLyra.
Lyra is easily found by
locating Vega, the
bright star near
Hercules, and Draco.
The constellation
Ophiuchus is the
Serpent Bearer. This
large constellation can
be seen in the night sky
from June through
October. Although
most of the stars are
dim, Ophiuchus' teapot
shape makes it easy to
The constellation is a
combination of three
different figures.
Ophiuchus is holding
Serpens Caput in his
left hand, and Serpens
Cauda in his right. He is
located south
of Hercules and north
of Scorpius.
In Greek myth, Ophiuchus
represents the god of
medicine, Asclepius.
Asclepius was the son
of Apollo and was taught by
Chiron, the Centaur. He
learned how to bring people
back from the dead, which
worriedHades. The god of the
underworld asked his
brother Zeus to kill the
medicine god. Zeus did strike
him dead, but then put the
figure of Asclepius in the sky
to honor him.
There aren't many bright
stars in this
constellation, but there is
a rather unique one. RS
Ophiuchi is a type of star
called a recurrent nova.
These strange objects
stay dim for long periods
of time, and then
suddenly brighten. The
brightest star is
called Ras Alhague, and
is the head of the serpent
Look for the “messy”
tea pot below Hercules.
Corona Borealis is a small
constellation in the
northern hemisphere. In
Latin, its name means
the "northern crown."
The main stars in Corona
Borealis form a
semicircular arc
resembling a crown. The
constellation was
created by the Greek
astronomer Ptolemy in
the 2nd century.
In Greek mythology, the
constellation is usually
associated with the crown
Dionysus gave to Ariadne, the
daughter of King Minos of Crete,
when she married him. Ariadne
had left Crete with Theseus after
helping him kill the Minotaur,
but Theseus abandoned her
pretty soon and, as she sat
forlorn on the island of Naxos,
Dionysus saw her and decided to
marry her. After the wedding,
Dionysus threw the crown into
the sky, where the jewels turned
into stars and the crown became
a constellation.
More than any other
constellation, Scorpius
resembles its given name. If you
live in the northern hemisphere
of the Earth, Scorpius crawls
across the southern sky, close to
the horizon. But if you live in the
southern hemisphere, it passes
high in the sky. The bright
starAntares marks the heart of
the arachnid, and its long
curving tail trails to the south.
The scorpion once had claws,
but they were cut off by Julius
Ceasar to form the constellation
Where stars are
concerned, whatever you
are looking for, you can
probably find it in
Scorpius. Antares is an
unmistakable, brilliant
red supergiant star at the
heart of the scorpion.
One of the largest,
brightest globular
clusters in the sky is in
The scorpion holds an
infamous place in Greek
mythology as the slayer of
Orion. Another story tells
that Orion fled the scorpion
by swimming the sea to the
island of Delos to see his
lover, Artemis. Apollo,seeking
to punish Artemis, joined her
and challenged her hunting
skills, daring her to shoot the
black dot that approached in
the water. Artemis won the
challenge, unknowingly
killing her lover by doing so.
Look low in the
Southern sky for
Anteres, the giand red
ant crawling on
scorpio’s back.
Sagittarius is a centaur, with
the torso of a man atop the
body of a horse. Unlike the
wise and peaceful centaur
Chiron (Centaurus),
Sagittarius is aiming his giant
bow at his neighbor, Scorpius.
While this is a very large
constellation, its stars are
relatively faint and most
people easily recognize just
the central figure which
resembles a teapot with a lid,
handle, and spout.
More than a dozen
objects reside in
including globular
clusters. Recently,
astronomers have
discovered a small
galaxy in Sagittarius
that is crashing
through the Milky Way.
Exactly who is Sagittarius? The
Mediterranean people viewed
him as Enkidu, the close friend of
Gilgamesh, believed to be
represented byOrion. Greek
mythology associates
Sagittarius with Crotus, the son
of the goat-god Pan and
Eupheme, the nurse of the
Muses. He grew to be a skilled
hunter, as well as a man with an
artistic soul. The Muses, with
whom he was raised,
begged Zeus to honor him with a
constellation equal to his great
Look behind Scorpius
for the centaur’s arrow!
 Or just look for the giant
teapot behind Scorpius’
Andromeda is a "V"
shaped constellation
best viewed in the fall if
you live in the Northern
Hemisphere. Andromeda
lies close to the north
pole, so only a few in the
Southern Hemisphere
can see this strangely
shaped constellation in
the spring.
One myth about Andromeda
is found in Greek mythology.
Andromeda's mother, Queen
Cassiopeia, bragged that she
was prettier than the sea
nymphs. The nymphs
complained to Poseidon, who
in turn sent a monster to
destroy her land. The queen
and her husband, King
Cepheus, were told to
sacrifice their daughter to
save the country.
Andromeda was chained
to a cliff for the monster,
called Cetus. Just as the
monster was ready to
bite down on the
maiden, Perseus rescued
her. Perseus and
Andromeda were put in
the sky along with
Cepheus, Cassiopeia and
Andromeda is right next
to Pegasus, which leads
some to believe that at
one time, some of these
stars used to be part of
the winged horse. The
image shows Andromeda
upside-down, which is
often her position in the
sky. The Princess' head is
the star Alpheratz, which
is also the last star in
There is plenty to see in
this fall constellation. The
Great Andromeda Galaxy is
the most distant object
visible to the naked eye.
You can find this famous
galaxy on the right side of
Andromeda, about halfway up the constellation.
There are also many other
galaxies and some open
clusters around this
constellation, but many are
too faint to see.
Follow the two stars
that make up the base
of Cepheus’ roof past
Cassiopeia to
 Cassiopeia is almost
exactly in-between the
other two.
Note: Perseus is a winter constellation
The constellation Pegasus
represents the white, winged horse
of Greek mythology. This beautiful
figure can be seen high in the sky
starting near the end of summer and
continuing through autumn if you
live in the Northern Hemisphere. If
you are below the Equator, look for
Pegasus in late winter and through
spring. When looking at the image,
it is difficult to see the figure as a
horse. That is because the
constellation is actually upsidedown! Imagine it flipped over, and
you can see what could be the neck
and head of a horse and two legs
sticking out from the famous
"Square of Pegasus".
This square represents
the front half of the
horse's body.
Mythologists are still not
sure what happen to the
other half of the
constellation. The square
is very easy to find in the
night sky. The neck and
legs of the horse shine
brightly on clear nights.
The story behind Pegasus begins
with the battle between Perseus and
Medusa. When Perseus severed
Medusa's head, drops of blood fell
into the sea. They mixed with sea
foam, and Pegasus was born. The
white sea foam gave the horse his
brilliant color. Pegasus became
friends with the warrior,
Bellerophon. One day, Bellerophon
tried to ride Pegasus to Mount
Olympus. This angered Zeus so
much that he sent a gadfly to bite
Pegasus. When the horse was stung,
Bellerophon fell to the Earth.
Pegasus made it to the home of the
gods, where he still remains.
Pegasus is home to
several galaxies and
even a bright globular
Pegasus’ body is the
large square between
Andromeda and
Aquarius is a member of
the Zodiac, a group of
constellations that the
Sun travels through each
year. It is best viewed in
the fall in the southern
sky, although much of
the northern hemisphere
can see the Waterbearer
in the spring. Aquarius is
one of the oldest
constellations in the sky.
In Greek myth, Aquarius
was Ganymede, the young
boy kidnapped byZeus.
Zeus sent his eagle, Aquila,
to snatch Ganymede out of
the fields where the boy
was watching over his
sheep. Ganymede would
become the cupbearer for
the Olympian gods. The
constellation, Crater, is
often thought to be
Ganymede's cup.
The Sumerians also
believed that Aquarius
brought on a sort of global
flood. Also, many of the
stars that make up
Aquarius have names that
refer to good luck. This is
most likely due to the time
of year when the Sun
would rise in Aquarius. It
happened to be at the
same time when the rainy
season began in the Middle
You have to use some
imagination to see a figure of
a boy in the sky. Look at the
constellation in the same
position as the one pictured.
The head is on the right end.
Moving left, you can see what
could be an arm dangling
down. Continue left more,
and you come to the lower
half of the body. Notice the
legs are bent. This may
represent the position of
Ganymede while being
carried by Aquila to Mount
There are three globular
clusters in Aquarius that
may be viewed through a
small telescope. The
planetary nebula, named
the Saturn Nebula, is also
in the Waterbearer.. It is so
named because it looks like
the planet Saturn when
viewed through a
telescope. The closest and
brightest planetary nebula
is the Helix Nebula, located
directly east of the "foot".
Follow the diagonal
from Pegasus’ great
square (body) to
 Remember, “Aquarius
pours the water for
Pegasus to drink!”
The constellation Capri
cornus represents the
figure of either a goat
or a sea-goat in the sky.
Capricornus is also a
member of the Zodiac,
a special group of
constellations that the
Sun travels through
every year.
There are many different
myths about this dim
constellation. Some
believed that
Capricornus was the
Gate of the Gods, a
region in the sky where
souls passed when
humans died. Most
people saw a figure of a
goat or even a sea-goat.
A sea-goat was part
goat, part fish.
In Greek myth, Capricornus
was associated with Pan.
During a picnic, a monster
attacked the gods. The
gods turned themselves
into animals and fled, but
Pan couldn't decide what
to be. Finally, he jumped
into the Nile River, at which
point he transformed. His
lower half was in water, so
it became a fish. However,
his upper-half was still dry,
so it stayed a goat.
Capricornus is one of the
dimmest constellations
and does not contain
very many celestial
objects. It does have
one globular cluster. It is
easiest to see
Capricornus in
September. You will find
it belowAquarius and
next to Aquila.
Follow Aquila’s 3 tail
feathers down to
The constellation
Pisces is known as the
fish. Almost every
ancient civilization saw
this figure. Some saw
the figure as a single
fish, others saw it as a
pair. Pisces can be
found during the
months of September
through January.
In Greek mythology, the
two fish
represent Aphrodite and
her son, Eros. One day they
were fleeing the giant
Typhon, when they jumped
into a stream, turned to
fish and swam away. It is
said they tied a string to
their tails so they could
stay together. Even the
constellation shows this
long string shared between
The easternmost fish is
located just
below Andromeda. The
westernmost is
below Pegasus. The
string starts with the
eastern fish and travels
towards Cetus before
heading west to connect
with the other fish.
Pisces looks like a giant
mouth trying to chase
down Pegasus.
Canis Major is known as
the Great Dog. In Greek
myth, it is said that this
constellation, along with
Canis Minor,
are Orion's hunting dogs.
Canis Major was one of
the most important
constellations in ancient
times because the
brightest star in the sky
is part of it.
Sirius, the Dog Star, is
one of the brightest
objects in the night sky.
Only the Moon, Venus,
Jupiter and Mars are
brighter. Those that lived
near the Nile River used
the star to signal the
flooding of the Nile. This
special occasion
represented the return
from the dead of the Sun
god Osiris.
Canis Major is very easy to
find during the months of
November through March.
First locate Orion the
Hunter, and imagine a
straight line through his
belt. Follow the line to the
southeast, and you will see
Sirius perched right below
it. Sirius is the nose of the
dog. His body stretches to
the southeast, and his front
leg is to the west of Sirius.
The constellation Cetus
represents the Sea
Monster. It is one of the
largest constellations
In classical civilizations,
the figure was the giant
sea monster that almost
ate Andromeda. King
Cepheus and Queen
Cassiopeia were forced
leave their daughter
chained to a cliff. When
the monster came up to
eat her, the
hero Perseus defeated
him and later married
Because Cetus is so
large, there are only a
few months that the
complete figure is visible
in the sky. Look for Cetus
from October through
January. His head is a
circle near the
constellation Taurus. His
long body stretches
towards the southwest.
The larger circle in the
constellation is the tail,
not the body!
The first variable
star ever discovered is in
the Sea Monster. It is
called Mira, and was
discovered in 1596 by
David Fabricius. Mira is
located right in the
middle of the body. A
few galaxies and one
nebula are located near
the top of the circle that
makes up Cetus' tail.
Eridanus is known as
the Celestial River. It
most often related to
the Nile or Euphrates
Rivers because they
were so important to
ancient civilizations.
Eridanus is the second
longest constellation in
the night sky.
The brightest star is
called Achernar. This
star is at the southern
end of the
constellation, and is
rarely seen in the
Northern Hemisphere.
The other tip is held by
Cursa. It sets next to
the bright star Rigel in
the constellation Orion.
With some difficulty
Eridanus can be traced
through the sky. Once
you find Cursa, follow the
stars east and south.
Most of the Northern
Hemisphere can only see
the top half of this long
figure. Those living
below the Equator can
continue through the
strands of lights until
they reach Achernar.
There are over three
faint galaxies within
Gemini is one of the more
famous constellations. The
Twins are best seen during
the winter and spring in the
Northern Hemisphere. If
you live in the Southern
Hemisphere, look for
Gemini in the summer.
Gemini is a part of the
Zodiac, which is a group of
stars which the Sun travels
through each year.
Gemini is very easy to
find, just look for the two
bright stars called Castor
and Pollux. They
represent the heads of
the twins, while fainter
stars sketch out two
bodies. Gemini is right
between Cancer andTaur
us. Gemini is one of the
few constellations that
actually looks like the
figure it represents.
Many different
civilizations saw this pair
in the sky. Ancient
Greeks saw the twins
Castor and Pollux, sons
of Leda and Zeus. The
Romans saw the
brothers Romulus and
Remus, two heroes that
founded Rome. Both the
Greeks and the Romans
believed the twins were
raised by the
centaur, Chiron.
There are a few
interesting objects to
look at around Gemini.
There is a cluster of
stars near the foot of
the twin on the right,
and a nebula near the
arm of the twin on the
Orion, the Hunter, is by
far the most famous
seasonal constellation.
No other is more
distinct or bright as this
northern winter
constellation. The
famous Orion's Belt
makes the hunter easy
to find in the night sky.
Orion looks very much like a
person. First, you should spot
Orion's Belt, which is made of
three bright stars in a straight
line. One of Orion's legs is
represented by the bright
star Rigel, one of the brightest
stars in the night sky. His two
shoulders are made of the stars
Bellatrix andBetelgeuse. You can
see Betelgeuse's reddish color
without a telescope. Other
bright stars make up the two
arms, one which holds a shield,
and another that carries a club.
Many different civilizations
saw this constellation in the
sky. The most famous stories
come from Greek and Roman
myths. Orion was a famed
hunter, and in one story
boasted that no creature
could kill him. Hera then sent
a scorpion to sting the hunter.
Orion smashed the animal
with his club, but not before
he was poisoned. Both are
now on opposite sides of the
sky. They cannot be seen at
the same time.
A different story tells of the
love between Orion and the
goddess,Artemis. One day,
Orion was swimming out in
the sea. Apollo, who very
much disliked the man, bet
his sister that she couldn't hit
the object in the sea with her
bow. Artemis didn't realize it
was her lover, and shot Orion
with an arrow. When she later
found out what she had done,
she honored the hunter by
putting him in the sky.
There are
several clusters and nebulae t
o view in this awesome
constellation. The famous
Orion Nebula is located in
Orion's sword, which hangs
from the belt. It is so bright,
that even the naked eye can
see the fuzzy patch. It looks
spectacular even with a small
telescope or binoculars. There
are numerous other objects in
Orion, so scan the
constellation with a telescope
or binoculars on a clear night!
Perseus, the Hero, can be
found in the sky during the
winter in the Northern
Hemisphere. With a little
imagination, you can see
the image of a man in the
stars. He has a sort of
triangular body, with two
legs and feet that look like
they are curling up towards
the head. There are also
two arms stretching out,
possibly carrying some sort
of weapon or the head of
Perseus was a Greek hero
most famous for his slaying of
Medusa. If anyone looked at
Medusa's face they would
turn to stone. With the help
of Hermes' wings and
Athena's shield, Perseus killed
Medusa without looking at
her. On his way home,
Perseus came across the
monster,Cetus, getting ready
to eat Andromeda. Perseus
used Medusa's head to turn
Cetus into stone and saved
the princess.
Algol is a very famous star in
Perseus. When looking at the
image, Algol is the white "star" in
the right leg. In Arabic, the name
means "head of the demon",
which makes many scientists
believe the star was supposed to
represent Medusa's eye. What
makes this star so special is that
it winks! Algol is a special type of
binary star, with a dimmer star
revolving around a brighter star.
When the dimmer star crosses in
front of the other, the
magnitude of Algol decreases,
giving the appearance of a
winking star!
Perseus is located
along the Milky Way, so
it is full of deep sky
objects. When you find
Perseus, look for the
constellations Cassiope
ia, Cepheusand Andro
Taurus is commonly
known as The Bull. It
passes through the sky
from November
through March. Taurus
was a very popular
constellation in ancient
times, so there are
many myths about it.
The Greeks thought the
stars represented Zeus in
disguise as a white bull.
He tricked Europa into
climbing on his back. He
then swam out to sea
and carried her to Crete.
In Egypt, the
constellation was a
reminder of Apis, the Bull
of Memphis. He served
as a servant to Osiris,
god of the Sun.
Just as famous as Taurus is
the group of stars within it.
The Pleiades are a group of
seven stars that lie on the
Bull's shoulder. The Greeks
believed these were the
Seven Sisters, daughters
of Atlas and Pleione. It was
told that they asked Zeus to
place them in the sky to
escape Orion, who was
desperately pursuing them.
Little did they know that
Orion would be placed right
next to Taurus in the night
The brightest star in
Taurus is Aldebaran. It
serves as the eye of the
bull and is near
the Hyades, a lesser
known but still visible
group of stars. The
beautiful Crab Nebula
is located above the tip
of the bottom horn.
Bootes, the herdsman,
rides through the sky
during the late Spring
and early Summer. While
he may have appeared as
a shepherd to the
ancients, modern stargazers like us can easily
recognize the shape of a
kite, with the bright
star Arcturus at the point
of the kite where the tail
is attached.
Arcturus is a bright red
supergiant star with a
diameter nearly 20 times
that of the Sun and a
brightness more than
100 times that of our
Sun. Since it is only 36
light-years away (close
for a star!), it appears as
the brightest star in
Bootes, and, in fact, the
fourth brightest star in
the sky.
Bootes was identified
with a farmer who plows
the land during spring.
The Romans called
Bootes the Herdsman of
the Septemtriones, that
is, of the seven oxen
represented by the seven
stars of the Big Dipper,
which was seen as the
cart or the plow.
Follow the arc of the
handle of The Big
Dipper to “Arc to
 Arcturus is the
brightest star in Bootes
The constellation Virgo is
known as The Maiden.
The constellation
represents almost every
famous and powerful
female in mythology,
Athena, Artemis, Persep
hone and Demeter. She
is usually carrying a grain
of wheat and a staff.
The brightest star in the
constellation is Spica,
which happens to be the
grain of wheat. Its name
is Latin for "ear of
wheat". In the image,
Spica is the large, white
sphere in the lower left.
At first the constellation
doesn't look like a
person, until you realize
she is lying down! Her
head is towards the east.
There is a large cluster
of galaxies to the east
of her left arm. It
contains over 3,000
Arc to Arcturus from
The Big Dipper
 “Spike to Spica”
 Spica is the brightest
star in Virgo
The constellation Leo is
known as the Lion. Leo's
head and mane make up
an upside-down question
mark called the Sickle.
One of the brightest
stars, Regulus (Latin for
"little king"), is at the
base of the question
mark. The rest of Leo's
body, legs, and tail
extend to the east.
During the dry season in
ancient Egypt, the lions of
the desert came close to
the valley of the Nile when
the river flooded, which
used to happen when the
Sun was in Leo. Some have
interpreted this as the
origin of the name of the
constellation. The ancient
Sumerians, Babylonians,
Persians, Syrians, Greeks,
and Romans, all recognized
this constellation as a lion.
Leo is visible from
February through
June. Cancer sets to
the east andVirgo is to
west. Hydra and Crater
are below.
Find the Big Dipper
Use the back two stars
of the scoop as
pointers to locate the
triangle of Leo.
Cancer, the Crab, is a
member of the Zodiac, a
of constellationsthat the
Sun travels through each
year. Cancer is best seen
during the month of
March, but is visible from
December through June.
Although the Crab is one
of the more famous
constellations, it is
mostly made of dim
Fortunately, Cancer is
surrounded by much
brighter figures,
likeGemini and Leo. If
you use your
imagination, a figure
that looks like a crab
appears. Looking at the
picture, one can see a
body with two "claws"
coming out of it.
The constellation itself
came from Greek myth.
In the story
ofHeracles and the
Twelve Labors, the
warrior had a great
battle with the
monster Hydra. The
giant crab tried to help
Hydra, but Heracles
smashed it with his foot.
Hera put the crab in the
sky because it was so
Right next to the head is
a star cluster known as
Praesepe, or the
Beehive. To the naked
eye, it looks like a fuzzy
cloud. Galileo later
discovered that it was
really a cluster of stars. It
was named the Beehive
because astronomers
think the cluster looks
like a swarm of bees.
Start with Leo
Leo’s a hungry lion, and
is stalking Cancer right
in front of him.
The constellation Crater
is known as the Cup.
Crater is a small
constellation located
between Hydra and Leo
and next to Corvus.
Crater is best seen
sometime between
March and June. You'll
have to scan the sky
closely because it is
made mostly of dim
The stories about Crater
come from Greek myth. It
is said that Corvus, the
crow, was sent by Apollo to
get some spring water. He
took the cup to fill, and
came across a fig that
wasn't quite ripe. He
waited for it to turn ripe,
which made him late on his
return. He brought a
serpent with him and told
Apollo that it attacked him
and that was why he was
Of course, Apollo knew
everything, so he was very
angry that Corvus lied. He
sent the crow, the cup and
the serpent all into the sky.
Another story says the cup
is actually the sacred
goblet used by the
Olympian Gods. At one
time, the constellation was
seen as the young
boy, Ganymede, who used
to serve the gods nectar in
the goblet. It was changed
to represent the cup.
Locate Virgo or Leo
Directly below Virgo’s
Head, or Leo’s Tail sits
the cup.