Summertime is here, and it’s a great time to go stargazing. Wherever you can see the night sky is a perfect place to stargaze. Grab a friend, parent, sibling, or just go outside by yourself and find a perfect place to lay down on your back to look at the beautiful night sky. Depending on where you live you may be able to see all the stars in the sky clearly or maybe just a few. Here are a few constellations that you can spot easily and will help you get started on your stargazing adventure.
Though the big dipper is one of the most identifiable clusters of stars in the sky it is technically not a constellation of its own but instead is inside the constellation named Ursa Major. Also known as The Great Bear. The big dipper makes up the back end of the constellation, the hind legs, and the bear’s tail. It looks like a pot with a long handle. Ursa Major consists of eighteen major stars that you can connect to make up the constellation. While the big dipper has seven stars, that means you only have eleven more to connect. This constellation can be seen easily from April to June when all you have to do is look overhead towards the north. You’ll find the big dipper at first and from there you can connect your constellation.
Just like the big dipper, the little dipper is a part of a constellation called Ursa Minor, or The Little Bear. To locate Ursa Minor there are multiple ways. You can either find the brightest star in the sky which is the North Star, that’ll be the little dipper’s handle and the face of Ursa Minor. Or you can find the big dipper, the outer two stars that make up the square of the dipper can be used as a guide to go directly up which will lead you to the North star/little dipper’s handle. The little dipper’s handle is the Little Bear’s tail, and the rest of the little dipper makes up the body of the bear. The easiest part with this constellation is that once you find the little dipper and its seven stars, you have no other stars to look for. The best time to see Ursa Minor is similar to Ursa Major. During April to June in the northern direction of the sky.
Orion is one of the largest constellations in the night sky and can be easy to spot. Orion is a huntsman that Zeus himself placed among the stars after his death from a scorpion. The stars map out the hourglass body of Orion with three of the brightest stars as Orion’s belt straight in the middle. Other stars are there to outline his sword, arm, and his bow and arrow. When looking for the constellation remember this, if you are in the northern hemisphere you would look towards the south of the sky to spot him. Or if you are in the southern hemisphere, you will find him towards the northern sky. The perfect time for Orion is during November and early December. Even though it is early in the year you can try your luck and see if you can faintly see the constellation.
This constellation comes from royalty, named after King Cepheus of Ethiopia. The constellation is to represent a king even though it looks similar to a stick house drawing. Five major stars outline the constellation. You’ll be able to find it easier near the Ursa Minor and Cassiopeia (the king’s wife) constellation. Locate the North Star (Polaris) that is in Ursa Minor and it is located in the upper right to the star. The constellation also has the planet Uranus inside it, you would need a telescope to locate this planet since you are unable to see it with the naked eye. November is the ideal time to see Cepheus in the sky clearly with no trouble. You can see it from August to October very faintly.
Cassiopeia is the Queen of Ethiopia, ruling next to her husband Cepheus. During her life Cassiopeia was a vain woman, the myth goes that Poseidon placed her and her husband in the sky. She is depicted as sitting on her throne, she spends circling earth half the year sky upside down as punishment. So, depending on what time of the year you are looking for this constellation it will appear to you like the letter “M” or “W” at different times. To locate this constellation, it helps to understand where the North star is, then find Cepheus and she should be on the opposite side of Cepheus away from the North star’s location. Similar to the Cepheus constellation it can be seen clearly in November, but you can also faintly see it in September, the months leading up to November.
Just remember that a constellation is not going to look exactly what it is supposed to represent. Take Cepheus for example, the constellation represents a king, and it looks like a stick figure house. After reading I now challenge you to go outside and spot all these constellations. Also, while you’re at it try and see how many more constellations you can find.
Tagged:- astronomy, constellations, science camp
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