Throughout history, numerous civilizations and cultures have observed the constellations in the night sky. Others were called after legends or achievements.
As humans, we are hardwired to recognize faces, designs, and patterns in objects, and our ancient ancestors capitalized on this trait by naming the constellations after what they saw or believed they were witnessing. Let’s learn some cool constellation facts for kids today!
What constitutes a constellation?
A constellation is a bounded region of the sky. All of the stars and other objects inside the constellation’s boundaries are regarded to be a part of it.
Modern scientific terminology refers to patterns of stars as asterisms, and they are normally contained inside a single constellation and named for the pattern.
This contains galaxies and nebulae. Some may also belong to more than one constellation.
Although the majority of constellations are seasonal, there are a few that can be observed throughout the year.
Constellation Facts for Kids 1-5
1. The word “constellation” is derived from the Latin phrase “set with stars.”
2. The first people to use the constellations were farmers. In certain regions, the transition between seasons was so slight that farmers relied on the stars to determine when to plant and when to harvest.
3. Astronomers have identified 88 distinct constellations in the night sky.
4. We know that constellations have existed for centuries because Mesopotamian documents from 4000 BCE mention these celestial formations.
The Odyssey, Homer’s epic poem, mentions constellations, and 400 years later, Eudoxus of Cnidus wrote about 43 constellations.
5. Ptolemy, an astronomer from Alexandria, authored the Almagest in 150 CE. He utilized historical information from 120 to 150 CE.
He claims to have collected data from Babylonia as far back as the eighth century BCE.
Constellation Facts for Kids 6-10
6. The stars are grouped into distinct clusters. These are the 21 Northern Constellations.
- Andromeda, Aquila, Auriga,
- Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Corona Borealis, Cygnus,
- Delphinus, Draco,
- Pegasus, Perseus,
- Sagitta, Serpens,
- Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.
7. There are fifteen Southern Constellations, including
- Ara, Argo Navis,
- Canis Major, Canis Minor, Centaurus, Cetus, Corona Australis, Corvus, Crater,
- Lepus, Lupus,
- Orion, and
- Pisces Austrinus.
8. Astrology has its own set of 12 Zodiacal Constellations, which include Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.
9. These were the only constellations identified until 1536 when a German globemaker named Casper Vopel added two more. Antinous and Coma Berenices are their names.
10. In Ancient Greek, there were no constellations containing southern stars until 1589, when a Dutch astronomer by the name of Plancius began to fill the hole.
Crux and Triangulus Antarcticus are his creations. He then went on to design numerous other constellations.
Constellation Facts for Kids 11-15
11. The Greeks gave their names to the constellations. These names were derived from their legendary heroes.
12. Polaris (The North Star) and Ursa Minor (The Little Dipper constellation) were used to determine latitude (North/South) based on how high Polaris was in the sky prior to the advent of sophisticated navigational technology on seagoing vessels.
13. In Hindu culture, the phrase for the lunar mansion is Nakshatra. A nakshatra is one of the 27 (or occasionally 28) ecliptic sectors.
Their names are derived from the most notable star formations in each sector.
14. Each constellation has its own Greek mythology and creation story. Typically, these tales feature furious gods and unknown beings.
15. Today, the positions of the stars have been plotted and are displayed.
However, the stars in each constellation may not be at all close to one another.
Some stars will glow brighter if they are located closer to Earth or if they are extremely massive.
Constellation Facts for Kids 16-20
16. Depending on your location, you may not be able to view all of the constellations.
Additionally, the season of the year influences which constellations can be observed.
17. Hydra is the largest constellation in terms of area, occupying 3.16 percent of the sky.
18. Crux is the smallest constellation. It covers only 0.17 percent of the sky.
19. Both the Great and Little Dipper are classified as asterisms. This occurs when a small star pattern is discovered within a constellation.
20. 22 distinct constellation names begin with the letter “C.”
Constellation Facts for Kids 21-25
21. The 88 constellations recognized by the International Astronomical Union or IAU consist of 42 animals, 29 inanimate objects, and 17 humans or mythical figures.
22. The IAU assigns a three-letter abbreviation to each constellation.
23. NASA assigns each constellation a four-letter official abbreviation.
24. Crux is the brightest constellation.
25. 48 of the 88 constellations recognized by the IAU were discovered by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy about 150 CE.