A former teacher and tutor, Kenna enjoys helping children live a better life, understanding the importance of helping them become leaders.
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 of 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, composed of five wonderfully bright stars. You can also find the Big Dipper and look to the opposite side. The constellation's legend derives from the Ethiopian queen Cassiopeia, 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 on the western side, 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.
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 between +65 degrees and -90 degrees.
Where to View the Constellations
You are interested in viewing the constellations. It is best to drive away from the city lights such as the mountains, or open fields, where there are no lights and darkness is everywhere. Lay down on a blanket, look up at the stars, and see the magical world of the Heavens.
If you can't drive out of the city, 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 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. Many telescopes are available as astronomers talk about what is up in the sky and their equipment.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2015 Kenna McHugh
Kenna McHugh (author) from Northern California on November 28, 2018:
Summer is a good time to explore the constellations where I live as well. It is fun exploring them.
Dirk on November 28, 2018:
These are so cool to look at. I can't wait until summer to see the constellations better.
Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on March 04, 2018:
Hi, Kenna -- you are so welcome, and so am I. I'm looking forward to reading more of your tremendous hubs. Write me anytime.
Kenna McHugh (author) from Northern California on March 04, 2018:
Thank you for the kind message. I am so happy we are connected. Hugs!
Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on March 03, 2018:
Hi, Kenna -- wow! Great work! Loved your lay-out, presentation as well. I saw your notification and was I ever Glad. Thank you so much. I feel as if I have been blessed with a good friend: YOU.
May the best of life come to you.
Kenna McHugh (author) from Northern California on October 19, 2017:
Thank you for the comment. I hope you see my reply.
Kenna McHugh (author) from Northern California on October 19, 2017:
The stars have always amazed me because they are so vast and far away. As the Earth revolves around the sun with the influence of the moon, it must affect us in different ways. Some dream, some get emotional while others remain the same or normal for them. When I gaze at the stars, I see infinite space and freedom, an epiphany. During the Fall, as the nights become longer and the days shorter viewing the constellations is not as easy and I miss it.
CC from Untited States on October 19, 2017:
I have recently been fascinated by the polar stars and constellation. Such as the two bears. I've even been having dreams lately. I think it has to do with the Precession of the Equinoxes.