A astronomy It is one of humanity’s oldest hobbies. For a long time, people have looked at the sky to admire the spectacle of the stars overnight, and thus were named the constellations.
Observing the brightest spots above, the ancients were able to imagine animals, mythical creatures and even the heroes of their time in star drawings. From this they created several legends and myths that survive to this day.
What are constellations?
Among the most famous today, the zodiac constellations have been used for centuries to mark the passage of time (Source: Unplash/James Lee)Fonte: Unplash
Since 1922, the constellations are standardized by International Astronomical Union (WOW). They consist of well-delimited areas of the celestial sphere. Currently, 88 are officially recognized. On the other hand, the drawings that ancient people found and that we know to this day are technically called asterisms.
Some constellations, or asterisms, are so old that they go back to the Bronze Age. This is the case, for example, of the zodiac, which was recycled by the Greeks from the astronomical knowledge of the Sumerian peoples.
If you want to know more about celestial asterisms, but you don’t have a telescope at home, know that many of them can be seen with the naked eye. Below is a list of them to observe from your backyard.
1 – Orion
In Brazil, the Three Marys makes up a very famous triad. But did you know that they are part of a constellation even bigger? the constellation of Orion. The three are called Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka. In addition to them, it is also possible to see the red giant Betelgeuse and another blue one, called Rigel. If you want to see them in the sky, January and February are the best months.
Representation of the Orion constellation (Source: Unplash/Alex Simpson)Fonte: Unplash
2 – Scorpio
According to Greek mythology, Orion was a hunter who ran from a scorpion sent by the goddess Artemis. And this animal can also be seen in the celestial sphere. this constellation it is part of the zodiacal group, which marked the passage of the sun and the seasons of the year in ancient times, before there were calendars.
To see it, search for a star, in August, mainly, with a very reddish tone. It will be Antaresone of the brightest in the night sky.
3 – Crown Australis
Just under the scorpion’s tail, it is possible to locate another constellation.The. She is much smaller, and has stars less intense shine. Call of australian crown, references the laurel wreath of ancient Greek and Roman heroes and emperors, and can only be seen here, below the equator.
4 – Southern Cruise
THE South cruisel, or Crux, is another of the constellations emblematic of the southern hemisphere, perhaps the most famous of all. It is so iconic that it is present on the flag of many countries, including ours.
It is quite easy to locate it in the sky, despite being the smallest among all constellations. modern. This is because of its characteristic shape. It can be seen practically all year round, but in May it is in the most charming position, vertically.
Cruzeiro do Sul is represented on many flags, including ours (Source: Unplash/Rafaela Biazi)Fonte: Unplash
5 – Big Dog
Leaving from Três Marias, in the southeast direction, you can see the star brightest in the sky. In January it is high above our heads, close to the zenith. This is Sirius, which makes up the constellation of Canis Major, and became famous for naming an important character in the Harry Potter series.
6 – Phoenix
This is one of the constellations that have been cataloged very recently, just in the modern era. your star brighter is alpha phoenixalso called Ankaa.
7 – Hydra
This is the longest cluster of stars in the entire sky. It was named after the monster that the hero Hercules defeated in one of his 12 labors. Here in Brazil, it can be seen from March to April.
The stars of the constellation of Hidra they are less luminous, so it can be difficult to recognize them right away. Using an astronomy app it is possible to find it more easily.
Ancient representation of the Hydra constellation (Source: Wikimedias/Johann Elert Bode)Source: Wikimedias
8 – Southern Triangle
The shape of this constellation It’s pretty obvious: a triangle. THE Southern Triangle it was only cataloged in the modern era and was not known to the ancient peoples of the north of the planet. It can be seen near the horizon, in the south-southeast direction, mainly in the month of May.
9 – False Cross
This is not a constellation really. THE false cross is famous here in Brazil because it looks like the Cruzeiro, but the original set is much smaller than the copy. In fact, the fake version is made up of stars from two sets different, called Carina and Vela.
Carina contains Canopus, a white-hued supergiant, the second brightest in the sky. Vela has a neutron star, the Vela Pulsar, which can be seen from here.
In the past, both were considered part of a group biggest of stars baptized of Argo Ship. It represented the ship of the hero Theseus and the Argonauts. But the boat was divided into its parts – compass, stern and keel are other neighboring constellations.
10 – Toucan
It is an asterism it was only discovered in the 17th century, when explorations of the planet’s southern hemisphere began. Dutch astronomers depicted this cluster of stars in the shape of a toucan, named after the bird species native to South America.
Over the years he even got other names, but the first one was the one that stuck. your sun brightest is 47 toucan. Together with the constellations of Phoenix, Crane and Peacock, it forms a set called the “southern birds”.
11 – Centaur
In May, in the southwest direction of the sky, it is possible to see a pair of stars bright. They are alpha and beta centauri, of the constellation from Centaur. The second is also known as Proxima Centauri because, after the sun, it is the closest here to Earth.
Representation of the Centaur constellation (Source: Wikimedia/Johannes Hevelius)Source: Wikimedia
Did you know that officially there are 13 zodiacal constellations in total? It is because when the sky was divided by the IAU, researchers noticed that it was necessary to classify differently a little piece of space that was previously assigned to Scorpio. Then came serpentarium.
The zodiac is important because, seen from here, it is these asterisms that pass the Sun and the other planets of the solar system. In fact, it was because of this movement of the celestial spheres that astrology emerged.
This way of thinking sought to interpret, through the relationship between the stars and the planets, astronomical physical phenomena such as the change of the seasons, for example. Ancient peoples were guided by these asterisms to know the best time to plant and harvest the crop, and he was responsible for popularizing the idea of signs and, in a way, bringing people closer to the concept of constellations.
Currently astrology is considered a line of knowledge and can be used in different ways to help each individual self-knowledge and personal development. An important point that needs to be remembered is that signs and constellations are different. While the signs are fixed and 12 in total, the constellations continue to move and expand in the immensity of the universe.
Throughout the year, zodiacal asterisms can be seen along the ecliptic, an imaginary line that represents the path of the Sun. See below the period of the passage of our star for each of them.
- Capricorn – January 19 to February 15
- Aquarius – February 16th to March 11th
- Pisces – March 12 to April 18
- Aries – April 19 to May 13
- Taurus – May 14th to June 19th
- Gemini – June 20th to July 20th
- Cancer – July 21 to August 9
- Leo – August 10th to September 15th
- Virgo – September 16th to October 30th
- Libra – October 31st to November 22nd
- Scorpio – November 23 to November 29
- Serpentarium – November 30th to December 17th
- Sagittarius – December 18th to January 18th
During these dates, see these constellations it can be more difficult, because they will be dazzled by the sunlight, which is very strong. However, for the rest of the year, they can be visible in the sky at different times of the night.
Sky chart with all 88 official constellations (Source: Wikimedia/Pablo Carlos Budassi)
Whether with telescopes or with the naked eye, it is possible to enjoy the free spectacle that the night sky offers us. Observing and learning about constellations visible here in the planet’s southern hemisphere is one way to do this.
If you want to dedicate yourself more to this hobby, also remember that it is important to plan ahead to know what astronomical phenomena are happening in space. Find a quiet place, preferably away from the city and have fun.