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This is a picture of what ancient people thought the constellation Leo looked like.
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Image: (c)1995 Visual Language, All Rights Reserved

Constellations

Constellations are pictures made up of bright stars which appear close to each other on the sky. Like a game of connect the dots, if you use your imagination when you look at the stars, you may see a dog or a cat or some other interesting figure.

People long ago, like the ancient Greeks, did the same thing, although they saw the stars as pictures of gods and goddesses or of stories from their culture.

Many peoples noticed that the planets, the moon, and comets moved through the sky in a different way than the stars.

The motion of the Earth and the motion of the Sun in our sky affect the stars and the constellations that we see in spring, summer, fall, and winter. Some constellations never rise or set, and they are called circumpolar. All the other constellations can only be seen during certain seasons.

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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