What is the story of a star

Once upon a time there was a unicorn, a phoenix and a centaur. These have one thing in common. They name three of the 88 constellations that were established by the International Astronomical Union in 1922. But how did these constellations come about?

Spherical astronomy

Seen from the earth, the individual bright stars form an image, but the respective celestial bodies can be very different distances from our planet. This purely two-dimensional measurement of the starry sky is called spherical astronomy, the special constellations of stars are called asterisms.

Spread across the globe, the starry sky has served as a vital guide for a wide variety of cultures since the Neolithic Age. Constellations recurring in the annual rhythm determined the times for harvesting and sowing. They gave rhythm to people's lives and functioned as a calendar. But also to find your way around, especially for navigating on the high seas.

48 constellation names that we know today are rooted in ancient Greece, more precisely in the catalog of the constellations of Ptolemy. It is therefore hardly surprising that names such as Kassiopeia, Perseus or Hydra come from Greek mythology. They outlasted kingdoms and epochs.

Numerous attempts have been made to instrumentalize the constellations for political or religious purposes: Julius Schiller wanted to replace the “pagan” zodiac constellations, such as Scorpio or Libra, which can be traced back to the time of the Babylonians and ancient Egyptians, with the twelve apostles in 1627, for example. However, these have just as little established themselves as the names of various rulers whose court astronomers they wanted to immortalize in the night sky. One such historical constellation is the Royal Bull of Poniatowski, introduced in 1777 in honor of the Polish King Stanislaus Poniatowski. However, many can no longer be understood today. They came and went like the power of rulers.

Learn and recognize constellations

Probably the most famous constellation is the Big Dipper, which is actually part of the constellation of the Big Bear. To search for stars and constellations, patience is the most important virtue. If individual celestial bodies are known, it is worthwhile to orientate yourself on them and to go from there to the nearest one. Nowadays, apps and the like, like Universe2go, make star searches a lot easier. But it can't hurt to take a look at a good old star map beforehand to get an overview. Have lots of fun with it!

Image source: pixabay.com