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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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Science, Evolution, and Creationism

How did life evolve on Earth? The answer to this question can help us understand our past and prepare for our future. Although evolution provides credible and reliable answers, polls show that many people turn away from science, seeking other explanations with which they are more comfortable....more

Andromeda

Andromeda is a "V" shaped constellation best viewed in the fall if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. Andromeda lies close to the north pole, so only a few in the Southern Hemisphere can see this strangely...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 the fall 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 is best seen during the month of March, but is visible from December through June....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. Capricornus is also a member of the Zodiac, a special group of constellations that the Sun travels through...more

Cetus

The constellation Cetus represents the Sea Monster. It is one of the largest constellations known. In classical civilizations, the figure was the giant sea monster that almost ate Andromeda. King Cepheus...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 by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF