{[ promptMessage ]}

Bookmark it

{[ promptMessage ]}

The Constellations - Ursa Major that is a constellation A...

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
The Constellations Historically, constellations were groupings of stars that were thought to outline the shape of something, usually with mythological significance. There are 88 recognized constellations, with their names tracing as far back as Mesopotamia, 5000 years ago. The Historical Constellations In some cases one can discern easily the purported shape; for example, the constellation Leo shown on the right might actually look like a lion with the dots connected as they are. In other cases the supposed shape is very much in the eye of the beholder, as the example of Canis Minor (The Little Dog) shown on the left indicates. This certainly could be a little dog, or a cow, or a submarine, or . . . Star Groupings and Asterisms Some of the more familiar "constellations" are technically not constellations at all. For example, the grouping of stars known as the Big Dipper is probably familiar to most, but it is not actually a constellation. The Big Dipper is part of a larger grouping of stars called the Big Bear (
Image of page 1

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: Ursa Major ) that is a constellation. A well-known grouping of stars like the Big Dipper that is not officially recognized as a constellation is called an asterism . Constellations Are Not Physical Groupings The apparent groupings of stars into constellations that we see on the celestial sphere are not physical groupings. In most cases the stars in constellations and asterisms are each very different distances from us, and only appear to be grouped because they lie in approximately the same direction. This is illustrated in the following figure for the stars of the Big Dipper, where their physical distance from the Earth is drawn to scale (numbers beside each star give the distance from Earth in light years). The relative distances to stars in the Big Dipper It is important to make this distinction because later we shall consider groupings that are physical groupings, such as star clusters and binary star systems....
View Full Document

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern