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Constellations

Do you know what constellations are, what their names are, and how many of them are mapped in our night sky?

In this section on constellations, you will learn:

  • Who invented the constellations and why.
  • What patterns constellations make in the sky and why.
  • Mapping the sky.
  • The complete list of the constellations.
  • What the Zodiac is.
  • The detail and history of all of the constellations.

Who invented the constellations and why

The constellations have been around for thousands of years. Early civilizations like the ancient Greeks would use and make patterns from the stars to tell stories of their gods and heroes in their folklore and would also use these patterns for practical use, to know where they were and what time of year it was. While other civilizations had different versions of the constellations for their own culture, it really was the Greek constellations that stuck and paved the way for the modern ones that we have today.  

What patterns constellations make in the sky and why

The idea of the constellations took off from the first old constellations to the new modern constellations that we have today. Originally there were 48, and 40 were added over a long period of time by many astronomers who have been charting the heavens. There are now 88 official constellations that are mapped in the night sky from Earth, from pole to pole forming a sphere around the earth. The patterns are all different types, shapes and sizes, with the older ones ranging from all types of animals to gods and with the more modern ones to partial tools and other types of inventions based on astronomy. (See the constellations list page for a full list and meaning of each constellation)   

It has now also widely been agreed that the list of constellations will stop at 88 as he sky around the Earth has been mapped out fully. 

Mapping the sky

The celestial sphere is how astronomers map out the sky. The sphere is not a real sphere of course, but an imaginary sphere to map put the constellations and to know where everything is at any time of the year, because the constellations move around naturally as the earth moves. In certain areas of the Earth, certain constellations cannot be seen at any time, so its now important to have a map. Different regions have different maps that all join up together, however they are also split out into maps, otherwise know as charts. There are 6 of them and they are called:

Chart 1. North Pole Sky. Round chart of sky at the north pole.

Chart 2. South Pole Sky. Round chart of sky at the south pole.

Chart 3. Equatorial Sky. Centered chart of sky 1 at the equator.

Chart 4. Equatorial Sky. Centered chart of sky 2 at the equator.

Chart 5. Equatorial Sky. Centered chart of sky 3 at the equator.

Chart 6. Equatorial Sky. Centered chart of sky 4 at the equator.

Kids Fun Facts Corner

# 1. There are 88 official constellations.

# 2. There was 48 old Greek constellations.

# 3. 40 new constellations were added over a long period of time. 

# 4. There will be no more constellations added in the future. 

Q&A Corner

Q&A: What were the constellations created for? Answer. For old civilizations to map where they are and what time of year they were on.

Q&A: What types of patterns do the constellations make up? Answer. Types of animals, gods and tools.

Q&A: What is the constellations map around the earth called? Answer. The celestial sphere.

Q&A: How many sky charts are there? Answer. 6

Key Vocabulary Constellation. Astronomers. Celestial. Sphere.

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