8 Amazingly Bright Constellations Anyone Can Recognize
For centuries, civilization looked to the Heavens for answers to the mysteries of life, such as the changes in weather, natural disasters, and reasons for human conditions.
In the face of what seems to be a black drape of the sky with random sparking stars, astronomers have officially found 88 constellations. Better yet, we can call them groups of stars as a picture in the heavens, and most of them can be seen and recognized with the naked eye. Whether we can find answers to life’s mysteries or control our destinies or not, let’s take a look and see which constellations we can recognize tonight.
“..turn him into stars and form a constellation in his image. His face will make the heavens so beautiful that the world will fall in love with the night and forget about the garish sun.”— William Shakespeare
1. Ursa Major
The third-largest constellation Ursa Major is called the Great Bear and is the most famous of all the constellations with names. Why is he so famous? The Big Dipper is more or less half of the Ursa Major constellation. You can see the ladle-shaped stars are one of the most easily recognizable constellations in the sky.
2. Ursa Minor
The North Star (Polaris) shines brightly at the end of the Little Dipper’s handle. Once you find that bright star, you have found the Little Dipper, and you will see Ursa Minor as the little brother of Ursa Major. Also called Small Bear, the constellation rests in the Northern Hemisphere with Ursa Major.
Most easily seen and recognizable is the constellation Orion. Also called the Great Hunter, you can find him on the celestial equator, which means most the world can see him when you see him.
The key is to find his most noticeable three stars—Alnitak, Mintaka, and Alnilam—these bright stars make his belt. From there, you will see his arms and legs.
In the upper area of the Northern Hemisphere, you can find Cassiopeia. Greeks astronomers declared Cassiopeia the first constellation they ever discovered. To locate Cassiopeia, you look for the W shape, which is composed of five wonderfully bright stars. You can also locate it by finding the Big Dipper and look to the opposite side. The constellation's legend derives from the Ethiopian queen Cassiopeia, who was known for her unrivaled beauty and vanity.
Better yet, we can call them groups of stars as a picture in the sky, and most of them can easily be found and recognize with the naked eye.
5. Scorpius: The Scorpion
One of the longest-standing constellations known to man, Scorpius, aligns with the initial six signs of the zodiac. The constellation had a larger span of stars, but a portion of on the western side, which was the scorpion claws, now belongs to weighing scales and its symbol of Libra. Locate the star Antares, and there is Scorpius.
6. Leo: The Lion
Known for being pretty compact as a constellation, Leo is easy to recognize because the shape of the stars looks like a lion, which is not like other constellations.
Probably the easiest way to recognize the group of stars is to find the backward question mark. The question mark is the front of his body and head.
Located in the northern sky and best seen in late May, the name means plowman, herdsman, or ox-driver. Containing the fourth brightest star, Arcturus, the color orange and Boötes is home to many bright stars. The constellation totals 29 stars seen with the human eye.
Known as the 10th-largest constellation, Aquarius' close neighbor is Capricornus. Aquarius represents a young man holding an amphora (ancient Greek jar), pouring water in the open mouth of Piscis Austrinus, the Southern Fish. Two bright stars make finding Aquarius an easy task. It positions in the fourth quadrant of the southern hemisphere at latitudes within +65 degrees and -90 degrees.
What constellation can you find easily?
Where to View the Constellations
You are interested in viewing the constellations. It is best to take a drive out away from the city lights such as to the mountains or open fields, a place where there are no lights and darkness is everywhere. Lay down on a blanket looking up at the stars and see the magical world of the Heavens.
If you can't drive out of the city, then locate an observatory within your hometown and attend a viewing with experienced hosts. They can answer your questions and point out the constellations. Observatories house a large telescope for people to study and learn about the Heavens.
Visit during operating hours and learn about the location of the stars and planets.
Viewings include a host who helps you locate the different constellations in your hemisphere. It is a great way to learn how to recognize constellations.
Griffith Observatory is an example of a place to observe the constellations. The design of the building is astrological, and the observatory holds free public stargazing events from 2–9:45 p.m. Volunteers from different astronomical societies assist the public in viewing the constellations. The public can see the sun, moon, and other visible planets and objects. A variety of telescopes is available as astronomers talk about what is up in the sky and their equipment.
© 2015 Kenna McHugh