The constellation Ursa
Major (Great Bear)is certainly one of the most famous constellations;
it includes the familiar asterism Big Dipper (the Britsh call it the Plow, the Wain or the Wagon; in
German it is known as the "Große Wagen"). Ursa Major is an excellant
staring point to explore the night sky.
The group of stars, which form the
the Little Bear is often called Little Dipper for its form strongly reminds one
on an oldfashioned cream ladle or gravy spoon.
One of the very few constellation, who really resembles the figure it
was named after, is Draco,
The constellation of the
Canes Venatici, the Hunting Dogs, consists of two bright stars. A modern view is,
that these two "dogs" are hunting the Great Bear.
The Bear Driver Boötes is sometimes called the Herdman. It lies south
and east of the Great Bear.
The constellation Coma Berenice has it name after the beautiful Egyptian
Queen Berenice, i.e. after the shorn locks.
A wunderful circlet is being formed by
Corona Borealis, lying between Boötes and Hercules.
In a region where stars are few the constellation of
(the Giraffe) can be found.
Lynx (the Lynx),
likewise in a barren region, forms a sort of fence in front of the Great Bear.
North of the constellation Leo lies the
the Smaller Lion.
The last three constellations are modern astronomical images providing
identification for a few fainter stars unattacged to the older groups.
The Zodiacal Family
As the name implies belong to this familiy the twelve constellations of the
zodiac. There is a nice rhyme
to memorize these constellations.
(One remark here: Actually, nowadays there are two more constellation through which the
sun passes along the ecliptic: Ophiuchus and Cetus, the Whale.)
Looking like the king of beasts is the constellation of
Leo, the Lion; it
forms an arched mane.
South of Coma Berenice lies the group forming
The stars of
Scale, remind of the claws of an old scale.
On the edge of the Milky Way there can be the realistic form of the
the Scorpion, be found.
the Archer, represents a Centaur holding an bow.
the Fishes, occupy a region of the sky which is largely devoted to water
creatures of the sea.
According to greek mythology an expedition of the Argonauts went out to
get the golden fleece of the
Aries, the Ram.
With its long curved horns and its bright red eye (the star Aldebaran)
the constellation of
Bull, is most impressive in the sky. The Bull moves continuously away from the
advancing Hunter Orion.
are again a reference to the greek mythology. The both leading stars
are named Castor and Pollux after the twin sons of Zeus.
Crab, is not only part of the Zodiacal Family but as well associated with the
The Perseus Family
The heavenly W, the constellation
(sometimes called "The Lady of the Chair) is one of those constellations which
can be easily found in the northern sky. In the latidude of Central Europe
it appears nearly in the zenith.
royal consort of Cassiopeia, lies to the north and west of the Lady.
In order to fill the star poor regions between the Bayer Group and the other
families the astronomer La Caille (well known for his catalog of nebulous objects) conceived the
following 13 constellations.
He broke with the tradition and gave them scientific names (with one