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What are the Constellations?


What comes to mind when you think of constellations? Is it a grand escape into deep space? Do you know who observed and named most of the current list of constellations? Do you know how many constellations there are? These are a few of the questions that came to mind when I first started wondering about constellations. Here are a few of the answers followed by a list of links with information about each constellation.

Ptolemy was an ancient astronomer. In his early work, the Almagest, he listed 48 known constellations. The view of the night sky represented was quite a bit limited, but many of those same constellations are still accepted and retain their original names.

As far as an escape into deep space, do you know how far it is to the closest constellation? Centaurus is the closest to Earth. The closest star within that constellation is Proxima Centauri at 4.2 light years. That is a mere 39,735,067,984,839.36 kilometers away. Just a short trip if you were some how frozen in cryogenic stasis.

There are currently 88 accepted constellations listed by the International Astronomical Union(IAU). No one has named or postulated a new constellation in centuries. Astronomers simply add a newly discovered star to the constellation that it is closest to.

In the links below you will find information about each of the accepted constellations. We even threw in a few about the zodiac, its meanings, and dates. Enjoy your reading.


Tammy is a professional astronomy author, President Emeritus of Warren Rupp Observatory and retired Astronomical League Executive Secretary. She’s received a vast number of astronomy achievement and observing awards, including the Great Lakes Astronomy Achievement Award, RG Wright Service Award and the first woman astronomer to achieve Comet Hunter's Gold Status.

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