Definition of constellation. 1: the configuration of stars especially at one’s birth. 2: any of 88 arbitrary configurations of stars or an area of the celestial sphere covering one of these configurations the constellation Orion.
You could be wondering “What is a constellation?”
A constellation is a group of stars that are all located in about the same place in space. A constellation is a region in the sky as seen from Earth. A constellation is any random grouping of stars in the sky. A constellation is a group of stars related through an ancient story.
When astronomers refer to a constellation, they’re talking about a group of stars that together to form a recognizable pattern. Many of these patterns are related to mythology, however some of them are not, and are just named after particular objects.
Definition of constellation 1 : the configuration of stars especially at one’s birth 2 : any of 88 arbitrary configurations of stars or an area of the celestial sphere covering one of these configurations the constellation Orion.
Constellations can be a useful way to help identify positions of stars in the sky. Constellations have imaginary boundaries formed by “connecting the dots” and all the stars within those boundaries are labeled with the name of that constellation.
You might be thinking “Why are constellations useful?”
Constellations are useful because they can help people to recognize stars in the sky. By looking for patterns, the stars and locations can be much easier to spot. The constellations had uses in ancient times. They were used to help keep track of the calendar.
In some ways using constellations makes cataloging stars easier. You can designate the brightest one in a given constellation as Alpha, the second Beta, and so on. Most constellations don’t have more than 22 bright stars, so that’s convenient (though in reality it’s more complicated than this).
They are not connected to each other at all. Some stars in a constellation might be close while others are very far away. But, if you were to draw lines in the sky between the stars like a dot-to-dot puzzle – and use lots of imagination – the picture would look like an object, animal, or person.
What is an asterism and a constellation?
Constellation- a configuration of stars as seen from the earth natural object- an object occurring naturally; not made by man asterism- (astronomy) a cluster of stars (or a small constellation) star- (astronomy) a celestial body of hot gases that radiates energy derived from thermonuclear reactions in the interior.
You should be wondering “Are asterisms and constellations the same thing?”
Other star patterns or groups called asterisms are not constellations under the formal definition, but are also used by observers to navigate the night sky. Asterisms may be several stars within a constellation, or they may share stars with more than one constellation.
I’ll note not every pattern of stars is a constellation. The Big Dipper is a set of seven stars (eight if you include Alcor) that’s part of the bigger Ursa Major constellation. A group of stars like that is called an asterism.
How do Astronomers classify the Stars in the sky?
And astronomers do do that, using what we call right ascension and declination, very old terms that divvy up the sky into east/west and north/south coordinates. That’s fine, and very useful when you’re pointing a telescope. But if we’re just looking up and enjoying the view, Nature has done us a favor. It’s clumped stars together .