The Constellations

In modern astronomy, a constellation is a specific area of the celestial sphere as defined by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). These areas had their origins in star patterns from which the constellations take their names. There are 88 officially recognized constellations, covering the entire sky. When astronomers say an object is “in” a given constellation, they mean it is within the boundaries of one of defined areas of sky.

  • Cassiopeia: Cassiopeia constellation is located in the northern sky. It was named after Cassiopeia, the vain and boastful queen in Greek mythology. Cassiopeia contains several notable deep sky objects, among them the open clusters Messier 52 and Messier 103, the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A, the star-forming cloud popularly known as the Pacman Nebula, and the White Rose Cluster.
  • Leo: Leo constellation lies in the northern sky. It is one of the zodiac constellations and one of the largest constellations in the night sky. It represents the lion and is usually associated with the Nemean lion in Greek mythology. The constellation is home to the bright stars Regulus and Denebola, the nearby star Wolf 359, and to a number of famous deep sky objects, among them galaxies Messier 65, Messier 66, Messier 95, Messier 96, Messier 105, and NGC 3628.
  • Lupus: Lupus constellation lies in the southern hemisphere. Its name means “the wolf” in Latin. It is home to several interesting stars and deep sky objects, among them the historic supernova remnant SN 1006, the globular clusters NGC 5824 and NGC 5986, and the Retina Nebula (IC 4406).
  • Scorpius: Scorpius constellation lies in the southern sky. It represents the scorpion and is associated with the story of Orion, the hunter in Greek mythology. Scorpius contains a number of notable stars and deep sky objects; among them, the bright stars Antares and Shaula, the Butterfly Cluster (Messier 6), the Ptolemy Cluster (Messier 7), Cat’s Paw Nebula (NGC 6334), the Butterfly Nebula (NGC 6302), and the War and Peace Nebula (NGC 6357).
  • Ursa Minor: Ursa Minor constellation lies in the northern sky. Its name means “the smaller bear,” or “the lesser bear.” Ursa Minor contains one star with a confirmed planet and has no Messier objects. The brightest star in the constellation is Polaris, the North Star (Alpha Ursae Minoris), with an apparent visual magnitude of 1.97.

For more information about these and other constellations, please visit one of these sites: