Constellation Facts



  • Constellations are patterns of stars in the sky which astronomers use to help them pinpoint individual stars.
  • Most of the constellations were identified long ago by the stargazers of Ancient Babylon and Egypt.
  • Constellations are simply patterns — there is no real link between the stars whatsoever.
  • Astronomers today recognize 88 constellations.
  • Heroes and creatures of Greek myth, such as Orion the Hunter and Perseus, provided the names for many constellations, although each name is usually written in its Latin form, not Greek.
  • The stars in each constellation are named after a letter of the Greek alphabet.
  • The brightest star in each constellation is called the Alpha star, the next brightest Beta, and so on.
  • Different constellations become visible at different times of year, as the Earth travels around the Sun.
  • Southern hemisphere constellations are different from those in the north.
  • The constellation of the Great Bear — also known by its Latin name Ursa Major — contains an easily recognizable group of seven stars called the Plough or the Big Dipper.