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When we arrange the stars into constellations it helps us to map the sky
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The Unchanging Sky

The unvarying aspect of the relationships of the stars' positions may have suggested to the ancients something that was analogous to their beliefs about the universe. It is not surprising that they chose to express their beliefs metaphorically, believing that groups of stars, constellations, and moving planets were associated with their deeply held stories of the creation, sustenance, and destruction of the universe. Human beings, even now, use metaphor to express deeply held beliefs, in the poetry and art of societies.

In more modern times some of the ancient designations for star arrangements have remained, giving us a flavor of what the world felt like when the sky was "closer". The names, positions and groupings of stars help us to give order to the sky in our minds.

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The Summer 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist, available in our online store, includes articles on rivers and snow, classroom planetariums, satellites and oceanography, hands-on astronomy, and global warming.

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Andromeda

Andromeda is a "V" shaped constellation best viewed in Autumn if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. It was one of the earliest constellations to be recognized. Andromeda lies near the celestial north...more

Aquarius

Aquarius is a member of the Zodiac, a group of constellations that the Sun travels through each year. It is best viewed in autumn in the southern sky, although much of the northern hemisphere can see...more

Cancer

Cancer, the Crab, is a member of the Zodiac, a group of constellations that the Sun travels through each year. Cancer spends half of the year in the sky. It first rises in December and is visible through...more

Canis Major

Canis Major is known as the Great Dog. In Greek myth, it is said that this constellation, along with Canis Minor, are Orion's hunting dogs. Canis Major was one of the most important constellations in...more

Capricornus

The constellation Capricornus represents the figure of either a goat or a sea-goat in the sky. It is believed to be the oldest constellation known. Capricornus is also a member of the Zodiac, a special...more

Cetus

The constellation Cetus represents the Sea Monster. It is one of the largest constellations known. Even the ancient people of Mesopotamia recognized this large constellation. They believed the figure was...more

The Unchanging Sky

The unvarying aspect of the relationships of the stars' positions may have suggested to the ancients something that was analogous to their beliefs about the universe. It is not surprising that they chose...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA