The Constellations

Astronomers divide the celestial sphere into sections called constellations. These originated with the star patterns imagined by ancient people to represent their mythical heroes, gods, and exotic beasts. Now, constellations are simply areas of sky with boundaries laid down by international agreement, although the ancient names such as Perseus, Andromeda, and Orion have been retained.

A catalog of stars divided into 48 constellations was produced around ad 150 by a Greek astronomer and geographer called Ptolemy, and his catalog has formed the basis of our system of constellations ever since. At the end of the 16th century, a Dutch cartographer, Petrus Plancius, and two Dutch navigators, Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser and Frederick de Houtman, added a number of new constellations, including a dozen in the far southern sky that had been below the horizon of the ancient Greeks. More were added at the end of the 17th century by Johannes Hevelius, a Polish astronomer, filling in the gaps between the Greek constellations.

Telescopes Mastery

Telescopes Mastery

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