What do you see when you look up at the night sky? A compass? A crab? A crown? A dolphin? How about a winged horse or a sea goat? No? Well, ancient people had pretty active imaginations and no Netflix, so they told many of their stories using the night sky. Check out the 88 major constellations in this infographic by Sleepopolis, which also lists the brightest stars, locations in the night sky, and the really interesting mythologies.
About 48 of the 88 official constellations recognized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) are originally Greek and Sumerian creations, which often tie into specific myths. For instance, you can find Cassiopeia, a queen in Greek mythology who was placed in the sky as punishment for insulting Poseidon. She unwisely claimed that her pretty daughter Andromeda was more beautiful than the sea nymphs. There’s also dozens of mythical creatures, like the aforementioned winged horse Pegasus, who also happened to be the child of Poseidon, or the sea-goat Capricorn, whose broken horn became the horn of plenty, or cornucopia. In this list you can find the common zodiac that many people use to tell vague horoscopes, like Cancer, Sagittarius, and Taurus.
Others on this list of 88 constellations are oddly … typical. Some of the constellations put forth by French astronomer Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille are downright droll; you can find normal items like a sextan, a compass, the cross-hairs of a telescope, a carpenter’s square, and a microscope. There are some even more basic constellations, like the Triangulum Australe, which is, yes, just a triangle.
Use this resource to learn more about what surrounds our little planet. Perhaps this list can help us all enjoy a clear night just a bit more!
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