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Encyclopedia > Asterism (astronomy)

In astronomy, an asterism is a pattern of stars seen in Earth's sky which is not an official constellation. Like constellations, they are composed of stars which, while they are in the same general direction, are not physically related, often being at significantly different distances from Earth. An asterism may be composed of stars from one or more constellations. Their mostly simple shapes and few stars make these patterns easy to identify and thus particularly useful to those just learning to orient themselves when viewing the night sky. A giant Hubble mosaic of the Crab Nebula, a supernova remnant Astronomy is the science of celestial objects (such as stars, planets, comets, and galaxies) and phenomena that originate outside the Earths atmosphere (such as auroras and cosmic background radiation). ... For alternate meanings see star (disambiguation) Hundreds of stars are visible in this image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of the Sagittarius Star Cloud in the Milky Way Galaxy. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Amateur astronomy, often called back yard astronomy, is a hobby whose participants enjoy observing celestial objects. ...

Contents

Background

The visible stars are strewn randomly about the sky. Even before the dawn of civilization, it became common to clump various stars together in connect-the-dots stick-figure patterns. The grouping of stars into constellations is essentially arbitrary, and different cultures have had different constellations, although a few of the more obvious ones tend to recur frequently, e.g., Orion and Scorpius. Historically, without an "official" list, there was really no difference between a constellation and an asterism. Anyone could arrange and name a grouping which might or might not be generally accepted. Still, some of our own constellations go back at least as far as the Sumerians. Connect the dots puzzle for adults. ... A stick figure A stick figure is a very crude type of drawing, generally of the human form, although stick figures of other types of animals are possible (for example, a stick figure dog). ... Orion (IPA: ), a constellation often referred to as The Hunter, is a prominent constellation, one of the largest and perhaps the best-known and most conspicuous in the sky. ... Scorpius (Latin for scorpion, symbol , Unicode ♏) is one of the constellations of the zodiac. ...


Our current list is based on that of the Greco-Roman astronomer, Claudius Ptolemy of Alexandria (c 85–c 165). His list of 48 constellations was accepted as the standard for 1800 years. As constellations were considered to be composed only of the stars that constituted the figure, it was always possible to use the left over, non-figure ("amorphic") stars to create and squeeze in a new grouping among the established constellations. Two astronomers particularly known for expanding Ptolemy's catalogue were Johann Bayer (1572–1625) and Nicolas Louis de Lacaille (1713–1762). Bayer listed 12 new constellations to fill the area near the South Celestial Pole, unobserved by the ancients; Lacaille created 14 new constellations in this area and around. Many of their proposed constellations have been accepted, the rest remaining asterisms, mostly obsolete. Clarification was necessary to determine which groupings are constellations and which stars belonged to them. The situation was finally regularized in 1930 when the International Astronomical Union (IAU) divided the sky into 88 official constellations with precise boundaries. Any other grouping is an asterism. This article is about the geographer and astronomer Ptolemy. ... Johann Bayer (1572 – March 7, 1625) was a German astronomer. ... Abbé Nicolas Louis de Lacaille (March 15, 1713 – March 21, 1762) was a French astronomer. ... The South Star is the star which is circumpolar to the celestial South Pole (as Polaris, the North Star, is for the celestial North Pole), and can thus be reliably used for navigation. ... Logo of the IAU The International Astronomical Union (French: Union astronomique internationale) unites national astronomical societies from around the world. ...


Points to bear in mind —

  • The seasons indicated here are for the Northern Hemisphere. For the Southern Hemisphere, substitute the opposite season.
  • The smaller the number of a star's magnitude, the brighter it is. Thus those of the 1st magnitude are brighter than those of the 2nd. Even negative magnitudes are possible, and the few so rated, though still called "first" magnitude, are the very brightest.
  • A true star cluster (see below), whose stars are gravitationally related, is not an asterism.

// Headline text HEY!! HOW ARE YOU ALL?? Its nice of you to come read this page. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

Large seasonal asterisms

By happenstance, in each of the four seasons there is a large asterism overhead near midnight. Their component stars are bright and mark out simple geometric shapes.

  • Spring is marked by the Diamond of Virgo consisting of Arcturus, Spica, Denebola, and Cor Caroli. An East-West line from Arcturus to Denebola forms an equilateral triangle with Cor Caroli to the North (Spring Triangle), and another with Spica to the South. Together these two triangles form the Diamond. Stretching from 38°N to 11°S, the Diamond is too large to be seen all at once. Formally, the stars of the Diamond are located in the constellations Boötes, Virgo, Leo, and Canes Venatici.
  • The Great Square of Pegasus is the quadrilateral that forms the body of the winged horse. It may be glimpsed in its entirety on Autumn nights.
  • Fully one-third of the 1st magnitude stars visible in the sky (seven of twenty-one) are in the Winter Circle with Sirius, Procyon, Pollux - toss in 2nd magnitude Castor - Capella, Aldebaran, and Rigel on the periphery, and Betelgeuse located off-center. Although somewhat flattened, and thus more elliptical than circular, the figure is so huge that it is impossible to take it all in at a single glance, thus making the lack of true circularity less noticeable. (The projection in the chart exaggerates the stretching.) Some prefer to consider the shape a Hexagon.

The Great Diamond or Virgins Diamond/Diamond of Virgo is an asterism. ... Arcturus (α Boo / α Boötis / Alpha Boötis) (IPA: ) is the brightest star in the constellation Boötes, and the third brightest star in the night sky, with a visual magnitude of −0. ... Spica (α Vir / α Virginis / Alpha Virginis) is the brightest star in the constellation Virgo, and one of the brightest stars in the nighttime sky. ... Denebola (β Leo / β Leonis / Beta Leonis) is the second brightest star in the constellation Leo. ... Cor Caroli (α CVn / α Canum Venaticorum / Alpha Canum Venaticorum) is the brightest star in the northern constellation Canes Venatici. ... The Spring Triangle is an astronomical asterism involving an imaginary triangle drawn upon the celestial sphere, with its defining vertices at Arcturus, Spica, and alternately Denebola or Regulus. ... Boötes (IPA: ), a name deriving from Egypt, is one of the 88 modern constellations and was also one of the 48 constellations listed by Ptolemy. ... Virgo (IPA: , Latin: , symbol , ) is a constellation of the zodiac. ... Leo (IPA: , Latin: , symbol , ) is a constellation of the zodiac. ... Canes Venatici (Latin for Hunting dogs) is a small northern constellation that was introduced by Johannes Hevelius in the 17th century. ... The Summer Triangle is an astronomical asterism involving an imaginary triangle drawn on the northern hemispheres celestial sphere, with its defining vertices at Altair, Deneb, and Vega. ... Deneb (α Cyg / α Cygni / Alpha Cygni) is the brightest star in the constellation Cygnus and one of the vertices of the Summer Triangle. ... Altair (α Aql / α Aquilae / Alpha Aquilae / Atair ) is the brightest star in the constellation Aquila and the twelfth brightest star in the nighttime sky, at visual magnitude 0. ... Vega (α Lyr / α Lyrae / Alpha Lyrae) is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra, and the fifth brightest star in the sky. ... Cygnus (Latin for swan) is a northern constellation. ... Aquila (IPA: , Latin: ; sometimes named the Vulture), is one of the 48 constellations listed by Ptolemy, also mentioned by Eudoxus (4th cent. ... For other uses, see Lyra (disambiguation). ... It has been suggested that Andromeda-Milky Way collision be merged into this article or section. ... Pegasus (IPA: ) is a northern constellation, named after the mythological winged horse Pegasus. ... Red = Winter Trangle, Blue = Winter Hexagon The Winter Hexagon is an asterism involving an imaginary hexagon drawn, during the winter, upon the northern hemispheres celestial sphere; with its defining vertices at Rigel, Aldebaran, Capella, Pollux/Castor, Procyon, and Sirius. ... For information on Sirius satellite radio, see Sirius Satellite Radio. ... Procyon (α CMi / α Canis Minoris / Alpha Canis Minoris) is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Minor and the eighth brightest star in the nighttime sky. ... Pollux (β Gem / β Geminorum / Beta Geminorum) is one of the brightest star in the constellation Gemini and one of the brightest stars in the nighttime sky. ... Castor (α Gem / α Geminorum / Alpha Geminorum) is the second brightest star in the constellation Gemini and one of the brightest stars in the nighttime sky. ... The term capella can refer to: A cappella, a music term referring to vocal music or singing without instrumental accompaniment. ... Aldebaran from the Arabic (الدبران al-dabarān) meaning the follower, (α Tau / α Tauri / Alpha Tauri) is the brightest star in the constellation Taurus and one of the brightest stars in the nighttime sky. ... Rigel (pronounced ) (β Orionis) is the brightest star in the constellation Orion and the seventh brightest star in the sky, with visual magnitude 0. ... Betelgeuse (Alpha (α) Orionis) is a semiregular variable star located 427 light-years away [1]. It is the second brightest star in the constellation Orion, and the ninth brightest star in the night sky. ...

Other examples

Use the links for star-charts and photographs.

Undoubtedly, the best-known asterism in the Northern Hemisphere is the Big Dipper (sometimes called the Plough). Composed of the seven brightest stars in Ursa Major where they delineate the Bear's hindquarters and exaggerated tail, the Dipper is often the first grouping of stars shown to beginners in the Northern Hemisphere. With its even more ridiculously lengthened tail, Ursa Minor hardly appears bearlike at all. It does much better under its pseudonym of the Little Dipper. Big Dipper map A group of the brightest stars of the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear, form a well-known asterism that has been recognized as a distinct grouping in many cultures from time immemorial. ... Ursa Major (IPA: ) is a constellation visible throughout the year in most of the northern hemisphere. ... Ursa Minor (IPA: ) is a constellation in the northern sky, the name of which means Smaller Bear in Latin. ...


Constellation aliases

Ursa Minor is not the only constellation that does not look very much like what it represents. Very few do. This has led to nicknames for some of the constellations. These nicknames are another variety of asterism. A glance at the stick-figures shown in the charts under the constellation names will easily explain the origin of these asterisms.

  • The best-known of this type is the Northern Cross in Cygnus. The upright runs from Deneb (α Cyg) in the Swan's tail to Albireo (β Cyg) in the beak. The transverse runs from Gienah (ε Cyg) in one wing to Delta Cygni (δ Cyg) in the other.
  • The Great Hook is the traditional Polynesian name for Scorpius. The image will be even more obvious if the chart's lines from Antares (α Sco) to Graffias (β Sco) and Pi Scorpii (π Sco) are replaced with a line from Graffias through Dschubba (δ Sco) to Pi forming a large capped J.
  • Adding vertical lines to connect the limbs at the left and right in the main diagram of Hercules will complete the figure of the Butterfly.
  • Although hardly an ancient notion, it is easy to see why the Ice Cream Cone is sometimes applied to Boötes. It is even better-known as the Kite.
  • The stars of Cassiopeia form a W which is often used as a nickname.
  • In Australia, "Frying Pan" for Chamaeleon, as an aid to finding south by the stars.

Cygnus (Latin for swan) is a northern constellation. ... Deneb (α Cyg / α Cygni / Alpha Cygni) is the brightest star in the constellation Cygnus and one of the vertices of the Summer Triangle. ... Albireo (β Cyg / β Cygni / Beta Cygni) is the third brightest star in the constellation Cygnus. ... Gienah can be a star in Cygnus or in Corvus. ... Scorpius (Latin for scorpion, symbol , Unicode ♏) is one of the constellations of the zodiac. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Acrab (also known as El Acrab or Graffias) is the proper name name of the star β Xi Scorpii 5 in the constellation of Scorpio. ... Pi Scorpii is a triple star system in the constellation Scorpius. ... Dschubba (forehead) is the name for the star δ Scorpii (delta Scorpii). ... Hercules (IPA: ) is the fifth largest of the 88 modern constellations. ... Boötes (IPA: ), a name deriving from Egypt, is one of the 88 modern constellations and was also one of the 48 constellations listed by Ptolemy. ... Cassiopeia (IPA: ) is a northern constellation which Greek mythology considered to represent a vain queen who boasted about her unrivaled beauty. ... A stainless steel frying pan. ... For other uses of the word, see chameleon (disambiguation) Chamaeleon (Latin for chameleon) is a minor southern constellation. ...

Non-sectional asterisms

Other asterisms are also composed of stars from one constellation, but do not refer to the traditional figures.

  • The four central stars in Hercules, ε (Epsilon), ζ (Zeta), η (Eta), and π (Pi), form the well-known Keystone.
  • The curve of stars at the front end of the Lion from Al Ashfar (ε Leo / Epsilon Leonis) to Regulus (α Leo / Alpha Leonis), looking much like a mirror-image question mark, have long been known as the Sickle.
  • The bow and arrow of the Archer also make a well-formed Teapot. (There is even a bit of nebulosity near the "spout" to serve as steam.)
  • The Terebellum is a small quadrilateral of four faint stars (ω, 59, 60, 62) in Sagittarius' hindquarters.
  • The Saucepan can be:-
    • The same stars as the Belt and Sword of Orion. The end of the handle is at ι Ori, with the far rim at η Ori.
    • In Australia, part of Pavo.
  • Dubhe and Merak (Alpha and Beta Ursae Majoris), the two stars at the end of the bowl of the Big Dipper are habitually called The Pointers: A line from β to α and continued for a bit over five times the distance between them, arrives at the North Celestial Pole and the star Polaris (α UMi / Alpha Ursa Minoris), the North Star.
  • Alpha and Beta Centauri are the Southern Pointers leading to the Southern Cross and thus helping to distinguish Crux from the False Cross.

Hercules (IPA: ) is the fifth largest of the 88 modern constellations. ... Epsilon Leonis (ε Leo / ε Leonis) is a star in the constellation Leo. ... Regulus (α Leo / α Leonis / Alpha Leonis) is the brightest star in the constellation Leo and one of the brightest stars in the nighttime sky. ... Leo (IPA: , Latin: , symbol , ) is a constellation of the zodiac. ... For other uses, see Sagittarius. ... The Terebellum is a quadrilateral of stars in the constellation Sagittarius. ... For other uses, see Sagittarius. ... Pavo is: The genus name for the peafowl A constellation (see Pavo (constellation)) A small town in the southern part of Georgia, USA. Mostly known as the site of AWOL paintballs home field. ... Dubhe (α Ursae Majoris) is the second-brightest star in the constellation of Ursa Major. ... Merak (β Ursae Majoris, HD 95418) is a star in the constellation of Ursa Major, forming a part of The Plough or Big Dipper. ... Big Dipper map A group of the brightest stars of the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear, form a well-known asterism that has been recognized as a distinct grouping in many cultures from time immemorial. ... Polaris (α UMi / α Ursae Minoris / Alpha Ursae Minoris), more commonly known as The North Star or simply North Star, is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor. ... Alpha Centauri (α Cen / α Centauri) is the brightest star system in the southern constellation of Centaurus. ... Beta Centauri (β Cen / β Centauri), also known as Hadar or Agena, is the second brightest star in the constellation Centaurus and the eleventh brightest star in the nighttime sky. ... CRUX is a lightweight, i686-optimized Linux distribution targeted at experienced Linux users. ... Vela (IPA: , Latin: ) is a southern constellation, one of the four parts into which Argo Navis was split (the others being Carina, Puppis and Pyxis). ...

Cross-border groups

Like the Seasonal asterisms, there are others that are formed from stars in more than one constellation.

  • There is another large asterism which, like the Diamond of Virgo, is composed of a pair of equilateral triangles. Sirius (α CMa), Procyon (α CMi), and Betelgeuse (α Ori) form one to the North (Winter Triangle) while Sirius, Naos (ζ Pup), and Phakt (α Col) form another to the South. Unlike the Diamond, however, these triangles meet, not base-to-base, but vertex-to-vertex, forming the Egyptian X. The name derives from both the shape and, because the stars straddle the Celestial Equator, it is more easily seen from south of the Mediterranean than in Europe.
  • The Lozenge is a small diamond formed from three stars - Eltanin, Grumium, and Rastaban (Gamma, Xi, and Beta Draconis) - in the head of Draco and one - Iota Herculis - in the foot of Hercules.
  • The False Cross is composed of the four stars Delta and Kappa Velorum (δ and κ Vel) and Epsilon and Iota Carinae (ε and ι Car). Although its component stars are not quite as bright as those of the Southern Cross, it is somewhat larger and better shaped than the Southern Cross, for which it was often mistaken by ships' navigators.

For information on Sirius satellite radio, see Sirius Satellite Radio. ... Procyon (α CMi / α Canis Minoris / Alpha Canis Minoris) is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Minor and the eighth brightest star in the nighttime sky. ... Betelgeuse (Alpha (α) Orionis) is a semiregular variable star located 427 light-years away [1]. It is the second brightest star in the constellation Orion, and the ninth brightest star in the night sky. ... Red = Winter Trangle, Blue = Winter Hexagon The Winter Hexagon is an asterism involving an imaginary hexagon drawn, during the winter, upon the northern hemispheres celestial sphere; with its defining vertices at Rigel, Aldebaran, Capella, Pollux/Castor, Procyon, and Sirius. ... Zeta Puppis (ζ Pup / ζ Puppis) is a star in the constellation of Puppis. ... Alpha Columbae (α Col / α Columbae) is a subgiant star in the constellation Columba. ... Eltanin is the name of the star gamma Draconis. ... Xi Draconis (ξ Dra / ξ Draconis) is a star in the constellation Draco. ... Rastaban (β Dra / beta Draconis) is the third brightest star in the constellation Draco. ... Draco (IPA: , Latin: ) is a far northern constellation that is circumpolar for many northern hemisphere observers. ... Hercules (IPA: ) is the fifth largest of the 88 modern constellations. ... Vela (IPA: , Latin: ) is a southern constellation, one of the four parts into which Argo Navis was split (the others being Carina, Puppis and Pyxis). ... Delta Velorum (δ Vel / δ Velorum) is a star system in the constellation Vela. ... Kappa Velorum (κ Vel / κ Velorum) is a binary star in the constellation Vela. ... Epsilon Carinae (ε Car / ε Carinae) is a star in the constellation Carina. ... Iota Carinae (ι Car / ι Carinae) is a star in the constellation Carina. ... CRUX is a lightweight, i686-optimized Linux distribution targeted at experienced Linux users. ...

Telescopic patterns

Asterisms range from the large and obvious to the small, and even telescopic.

Brocchis Cluster, also know as Collinder 399 or The Coathanger, is an asterism located in the constellation Vulpecula. ... Vulpecula (IPA: , Latin: ) is a faint northern constellation located in the middle of the Summer Triangle, an asterism consisting of the bright stars Deneb, Vega and Altair. ... Kembles Cascade Kembles Cascade, located in the constellation Camelopardalis, is an asterism - a pattern created by unrelated stars. ... Camelopardalis, Latin for giraffe, is the name of a large but faint northern constellation first recorded by Jakob Bartsch in 1624, but probably created earlier by Petrus Plancius. ...

Former asterisms

Argo is a special case. Argo Navis, ("the ship Argo"), was, by far, the largest of Ptolemy's constellations. Starting with Lacaille in his Coelum Australe Stelliferum (1763), it became common to refer to its various parts as the Keel, the Poop, and the Sails. In the 1930 IAU arrangement, Argo was deemed too large, and these old sectional asterisms were recognized as official constellations (Carina, Puppis, and Vela), thereby turning Argo, as a whole, into an asterism. The constellation Argo Navis drawn by Johannes Hevelius in 1690 Argo Navis (or simply Argo) was a large southern constellation representing the Argo, the ship used by Jason and the Argonauts in Greek mythology. ... Carina (IPA: , Latin: ) is a southern constellation which forms part of the old constellation of Argo Navis. ... Puppis (IPA: , Latin: ) is a southern constellation. ... Vela (IPA: , Latin: ) is a southern constellation, one of the four parts into which Argo Navis was split (the others being Carina, Puppis and Pyxis). ...


The Southern Cross is not an asterism, but merely a variation on the meaning of Crux. Crux was an asterism when Bayer created it in Uranometria (1603) from stars in the hind legs of Centaurus. It was given constellation status in 1930, thereby mutilating the Centaur. CRUX is a lightweight, i686-optimized Linux distribution targeted at experienced Linux users. ... Centaurus (Latin for centaur) was one of the 48 constellations listed by Ptolemy, and counts also among the 88 modern constellations. ...


In its original figuration, Leo included a spray of faint stars pictured as the tuft in the Lion's Tail which stretched straight out from its body. Antedating even Ptolemy by centuries, Conon of Alexandria created the asterism "Berenice's Hair" commemorating his queen in 243 BC. Following Tycho's acceptance of Coma, Bayer recorded it and refigured the Lion. The IAU confirmed Coma's status as a constellation. Leo (IPA: , Latin: , symbol , ) is a constellation of the zodiac. ... Tycho Brahe Monument of Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler in Prague Tycho Brahe, born Tyge Ottesen Brahe (December 14, 1546 – October 24, 1601), was a Danish nobleman from the region of Scania (in modern-day Sweden), best known today as an early astronomer, though in his lifetime he was also... Coma Berenices (IPA: , Latin: ) is a traditional asterism that has since become a constellation. ...


Even so venerable a constellation as Libra was once merely an asterism. Until the middle of the first millennium BC, the Zodiac consisted of only eleven constellations. The biblical reference to "the eleven stars" (Genesis 37:9) is more accurately "the eleven asterisms/constellations (of the Zodiac)." At the time, Scorpius' claws were pictured as extending to Zubenelgenubi, "the southern claw" and Zubeneschamali, "the northern claw" (Alpha and Beta Librae). Later, when Virgo was reimagined as Astraea, the goddess of justice, the Claws became a set of scales held in her hand. By Ptolemy's day, Libra had become an independent constellation, unconnected with either of its neighbors. Still, the names of its stars reflect the time when it was the asterism of "The Claws" and its figuration is that of the old sectional asterism within Virgo. Also, compare Arabic zubānā = "scorpion's claws", Babylonian zibānītu = "weighing scales"; old-type weighing scales were often held up for use by a string tied to the middle of the cross-arm, with a fancied resemblance to holding a scorpion by the end of its tail, instead of being on a stand; this may have led to a word for "scorpion's claws" coming also to mean "weighing scales", and thus to the constellation's name being reinterpreted. Libra (IPA: , Latin: , symbol , Unicode ) is a constellation of the zodiac. ... It has been suggested that this article be split into multiple articles. ... This Gutenberg Bible is displayed by the United States Library of Congress. ... Scorpius (Latin for scorpion, symbol , Unicode ♏) is one of the constellations of the zodiac. ... Zubenelgenubi (α Lib / alpha Librae) is the second brightest star in the constellation Libra and is located approximately 77 light years from the Sun. ... Zubeneschamali is the common name for the star designated β Librae. ... Virgo (IPA: , Latin: , symbol , ) is a constellation of the zodiac. ... Arabic can mean: From or related to Arabia From or related to the Arabs The Arabic language; see also Arabic grammar The Arabic alphabet, used for expressing the languages of Arabic, Persian, Malay ( Jawi), Kurdish, Panjabi, Pashto, Sindhi and Urdu, among others. ... Superfamilies Pseudochactoidea Buthoidea Chaeriloidea Chactoidea Iuroidea Scorpionoidea See classification for families. ... Babylonia was an ancient state in Iraq), combining the territories of Sumer and Akkad. ... Digital kitchen scales. ...


Open clusters

Open clusters are groups of stars that are physically related — gravitationally bound together and moving through the galaxy in the same direction and speed. As these groupings are not human constructs, but real phenomena, they do not count as asterisms. Among the best-known and closest are the Pleiades (M45) and the Hyades in Taurus and the Beehive (M44) in Cancer; however, Aldebaran is not in the Hyades open cluster but merely in the same line of sight. Star clusters are physically bound systems of stars. ... The Pleiades are an open cluster dominated by hot blue stars surrounded by reflection nebulosity A shorter exposure shows less nebulosity. ... The Messier objects are a set of astronomical objects catalogued by Charles Messier in his catalogue of Nebulae and Star Clusters first published in 1774. ... The Hyades (ÆΥάδες also known as Melotte 25 or Collinder 50 or Caldwell 41) is an open star cluster located in the constellation Taurus. ... Taurus (IPA: , Latin: , symbol , ) is one of the constellations of the zodiac. ... The Beehive Cluster (also known as The Beehive, Praesepe, Open Cluster M44, Messier Object 44, Messier 44, M44, or NGC 2632) is an open cluster in the constellation Cancer. ... The Messier objects are a set of astronomical objects catalogued by Charles Messier in his catalogue of Nebulae and Star Clusters first published in 1774. ... Cancer is a class of diseases or disorders characterized by uncontrolled division of cells and the ability of these to spread, either by direct growth into adjacent tissue through invasion, or by implantation into distant sites by metastasis (where cancer cells are transported through the bloodstream or lymphatic system). ... Aldebaran from the Arabic (الدبران al-dabarān) meaning the follower, (α Tau / α Tauri / Alpha Tauri) is the brightest star in the constellation Taurus and one of the brightest stars in the nighttime sky. ...


The fine point of what constitutes an asterism may be seen in two examples. Theta Orionis (θ Ori) is embedded in, and illuminates, the Orion Nebula (M42). Looked at telescopically, it resolved into four stars arranged in a trapezoid, and they were nicknamed the Trapezium. The asterism retained this name even when it was discovered that there were yet more stars in the group. However, it has since been determined that the Orion Nebula is a stellar nursery and that the Trapezium is actually an Open Cluster. Thus it is no longer an asterism. On the other hand, M73 in Aquarius, which was thought to be an Open Cluster, turns out to be composed of unrelated stars, and may now be considered to be an asterism. The Orion Nebula (also known as Messier 42, M42, or NGC 1976) is a diffuse nebula situated south of Orions Belt. ... The Trapezium, or Orion Trapezium Cluster is a tight open cluster of stars that lies within the heart of the Orion Nebula, in the constellation of Orion. ... A stellar nursery is a massive cosmic dust cloud in which microscopic particles may slowly aggregate due to gravitational attraction and eventually give rise to protostars and subsequently planetary systems, with one or more stars and planets. ... M73 (also known as NGC 6994) is a group of four stars very close to each other in the constellation of Aquarius. ... Aquarius (IPA: , Latin: ) is the eleventh sign of the zodiac, situated between Capricornus and Pisces. ...


See also

The former constellation Argo Navis Former constellations are constellations that are no longer recognized by the International Astronomical Union for various reasons. ... A nakshatra (Devanagari: नक्षत्र) or lunar mansion is one of the 27 or 28 divisions of the sky, identified by the prominent star(s) in them, that the Moon passes through during its monthly cycle, as used in Hindu astronomy and astrology. ... Chinese constellations are different from the western constellations, due to the independent development of ancient Chinese astronomy. ...

References

  • Allen, Richard Hinckley (1969). Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning. Dover Publications Inc. (Reprint of 1899 original). ISBN 0-486-21079-0.
  • Burnham, Robert (1978). Burnham's Celestial Handbook (3 vols). Dover Publications Inc. ISBN 0-486-23567-X, ISBN 0-486-23568-8, ISBN 0-486-23673-0.
  • Michanowsky, George (1979). The Once and Future Star. Barnes and Noble Books. ISBN 0-06-464027-2.
  • Pasachoff, Jay M. (2000). A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets (4th ed.). Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0-395-93431-1

  Results from FactBites:
 
* Asterism - (Astronomy): Definition (718 words)
Asterisms are sub- or supersets of constellations which build a constellation itself, or a group of stars, physically related or not.
It is a small asterism, containing only about five stars, viz., one of the 1st magnitude, two of the 2nd, one of the 3rd, and one of the 4th.
The prominent Y-shaped asterism called the "Water Jar" (or "Urn") of Aquarius, the Water Bearer, is in the middle of the picture and is made of a "Y" of stars with Zeta Aquarii) at the center.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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