This is a picture of what ancient people thought the constellation Leo
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Image: (c)1995 Visual Language, All Rights Reserved
Many cultures have seen distinctive patterns, called constellations, formed by the stars in
the heavens. Constellations are usually comprised of bright stars
which appear close to each other on the sky, but are not necessarily
close to each other in space. The positions of the stars relative to
each other in the sky depends on your point of view. Many societies
associated patterns among the stars with gods and goddesses or
stories from their culture.
Most of the constellations visible from the northern hemisphere which
are "officially" recognized are of ancient Greek derivation. But other civilizations created their own patterns in the sky based on stories and people that were important to them.It is important to recognize the cultural bias introduced in our vision of the sky by the selection of these constellations.
Many peoples also noticed that the planets, the moon, and comets moved through the sky in a
different way than the stars. They noticed that, over time, these
objects appeared to move with respect to the constellations.
Because of the rotation of the
Earth and its orbit around the
Sun, it is convenient to divide the constellations into two
groups. Some constellations never rise nor set, and they are called
circumpolar. All the rest are divided into seasonal
constellations. Which constellations will be circumpolar and which
seasonal depends on your latitude.
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