Teaching Students About Constellations

Constellations are one of the most popular and well-known astronomical objects. They are also one of the most easily observable objects in the night sky. Many amateur astronomers are able to identify at least a handful of constellations.

There are 88 constellations, which are groups of stars that appear together in the night sky. Each constellation is named after a mythological figure, animal, or place. The brightest stars in a constellation are typically the ones that are named after the constellation.

Although constellations are popularly known, most of the stars in a constellation are not individually visible to the naked eye. Only about one-third of the stars in the night sky are visible to the average person.

To learn more about constellations, look at a map of the night sky. Find the constellation that you want to learn about and locate the brightest star in that constellation. Draw a line from that star to the horizon. Using a compass or a GPS device, locate the north star. That is the point in the sky from which all other directions are measured. Using that information, find the other stars in the constellation.

Some of the best ways to learn about constellations are to take a star chart class, attend a planetarium show, or read an astronomy book.

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