‘Such beautiful patterns we get to see in the sky each night as if they could talk and tell stories and sing and rejoice’ – Constellations.
So what are these patterns?
Constellations are groups of stars that form a pattern when viewed from the Earth’s surface. Constellations are groups of stars visible on the earth’s celestial sphere. Don’t worry, we will explain what it is.
So the constellation is of a person, thing, etc as such.
Yeah, the celestial sphere is just an imaginary sphere, concentric to our dear planet. So, it was conceptualized because, now that one astronomer has identified a constellation, the person must have a basis to mark the points.
Like on paper, we can say the drawing is 7 cms to the south and 8 to the west. But the sky! It is not even a piece of paper! So the celestial sphere was to mark the points of constellations so that if any other person who wanted to see it had the perfect directions and degrees!
And then there’s asterims. Asterims are a part of a constellation, they arent constellations themselves. The Ursa Major and Minor, for example, are both asterims of the Big Dipper, which is a constellation.
Tauras’ asterims are hydes and pledias!
Now, a person from Africa can see other constellations than of India because the Earth passes through some only at a time. For example, if a camera rotates 360°, we can clearly see the south when it captures the south! At this time, we cant see any other side simply because the camera is capturing the south! In the same way that the earth passes through certain constellations At certain times. Hence what we see Africa might not at the same time.
Now there are zodiac constellations. Astrology and Astronomy are different, so here we are talking about the astronomical zodiac. Astronomy has 13 zodiacs and those 12, like libra, gemini etc, are the same. So, what are the zodiac signs? Its Simple:
Now imagine that a celestial sphere will be of a large diameter so it covers the earth and the Sun too. Our dear sun points to certain constellations constantly as the Earth passes, i.e. takes revolutions around the sun and those are the zodiac! So the sun in oct points to a constellation- libra! So when a baby was born earlier, and if the constellation to be seen was libra, they would have said that its october month as libra occurs in that month and so libra will be the baby’s zodiac! But here is a loop. The earth wobbles as it rotates, and as a result, its north pole changes slightly. It takes 26,000 years to see the change, and as a result, the solstice occurs 20 minutes earlier.
As a result, the Earth revolutes earlier than a year. So, if a baby is born in June, we will say that the baby is a Gemini, but the earth and sun may not be pointing to Gemini due to the earths’ wobbly nature, and it may not be ahead of Gemini in June!
A little Constellation History:
Firstly, they were helpful in making calenders and deciding time. The discovery of constellations can be traced back to at least 30,000 BCE, when a possible image of Orion was carved on a mammoth tusk, or even 15,000 BCE, when star maps were discovered on cave paintings in France’s Lascaux caves.
Then we have the Mesopotamian records of 3000BC and they are generally accepted evidence of constellations. These were very helpful even for checking when seasons will change and when to grow crops.
Then came the Babylonians, whose information can be dated back to the Middle Bronze Age and the classic Zodiac of the Neo Babylonins. The Greeks then adopted the Zodiac later and had their own constellations named after heroes, etc. China had its own legacy. In fact, there are 28 constellations known as the Lunar Mansions, which are divided into four seasons. Lunar mansion or constellation is now synonymous with the zodiac concept.
Here, you imagine a sphere covering the earth and moon, and the constellation moon points to becomes the lunar constellation.By 150BC they had 90 lunar mansions and by 400 AD the total was 284! And many of them still exist. What happened to India? India, too, had its own constellations, the Nakshatras, which consisted of 27 major constellations.
However, so many cultures and so many sui generis names can be understood by all. understand eastern culture at once! We needed something universal, something a Filipino and an Austrian could both get! So the International Astronomical Union was formed, which issued 88 universal const in 1922 and the official boundary for the celestial sphere was set in 1928.
And Astronomical Day was founded in 1973 by Dough Berger to promote the use of telescopes.
So, dear, go to the terrace tonight because we see five consts: Ursa major and Miner, Draco, Cassopeia, and Cepheus!