How Many Constellations Can You Spot in The Night Sky?

As a child, did you ever wonder about the moon and stars that appeared to follow you as you gazed up at the night sky from your car window? If yes, then it’s never too late to rekindle your childhood curiosity. And Astronomy Day is the perfect occasion to appreciate the surreal and beguiling beauty of the outer world. Started in 1973, by the Astronomical Association of Northern California’s president – Dough Berger, the initial aim was to set up telescopes in urban regions so people could enjoy the stars.

So, while you remain #ParkedForSafety at home, head to your balcony or terrace, and try spotting some of the easily visible constellations that decorate the night sky.

Orion

Also Known as: The Hunter

Two of the brightest and amongst 10 biggest stars known to us – Rigel & Betelgeuse – line up to form Orion. One of the most recognisable and conspicuous constellation in the night sky, Orion derives its name from Greek mythology and is named after the hunter who was placed among the stars by Zeus after Apollo tricked Artemis into killing him.

How to find it: Start by locating Orion’s belt – three bright stars placed close together, almost forming a straight line. Now connect them with two bright stars to the north and south to form the shoulder and feet of ‘The Hunter’.

Ursa Major

Also known as: Big Bear, Big Dipper

Popularly known as Saptarshi in India, the seven stars of this constellation represents the seven great sages in Hindu mythology – Vashistha, Marichi, Pulastya, Pulaha, Atri, Angiras and Kratu. The two pointer stars of this constellation are said to be given as a boon to sage Dhruva, who is represented by the north star.

How to find it: You can locate this constellation in the northern hemisphere; look towards the north and try to find a dipper or ladle like pattern. There are two parts to the ladle, the handle and the bowl, and the two stars that help form the end of the bowl make the pointer stars that can also help you locate the north star.

Ursa Minor

Also known as: Little Bear, Little Dipper

Popularly known as the Little Dipper, it is one of the constellations initially listed by Ptolemy in the 2nd century. Polaris, the brightest star in the northern sky, is part of this constellation and was used by sailors for navigation. Like the Big Dipper, Ursa Minor too is an asterism – which is better defined as a group or pattern of stars that are visible in the night sky.

How to find it: After you locate the pointers of Ursa Major, follow them upwards until your eyes land on the north star – the handle of the ladle. The adjacent stars will form an arc to make the handle while the four stars in the shape of a square will form the bowl.

Cassiopeia

In Greek mythology, Cassiopeia is the narcissistic Aethiopian queen who bragged about her unmatched beauty. As for the constellation, it can be found in the northern sky, easily spotted due to the conspicuous ‘W’ shape formed by its five stars.

How to find it: The five bright stars of Cassiopeia – Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon Cassiopeia – are noticeable with the naked eye. Connect them to form a ‘W’ or ‘M’ pattern which can be found below the north star during northern summers and above it during the winters.

Taurus

One of the zodiac constellations, Taurus one of the oldest start formations that was an essential part of the agricultural calendar in ancient Rome, Egypt, Babylon and Greece with its symbol representing a bull’s head.

How to find it: To spot Taurus, look along the sun’s path and find a ‘V’ shaped cluster of stars that form long horns extending on either side. You can find it near the constellation of Orion.

Elevating your stargazing experience
There are a host of stargazing apps on Android and iOS that can take you closer to the wonders of the sky. With these apps, you can turn your phone into a planetarium and identify galaxies, stars, satellites and constellations. Some apps also make it easy to locate objects in the sky, offer detailed descriptions, navigate the path of stars and provide the latest astronomy news.

Almost every constellation in the sky has an exciting tale, and you can #DiscoverMore about the constellations and clusters of our galaxy if it interests you. Not long from now, it might even inspire you to head on a fantastic stargazing trip. But until then, stay home and stay safe.

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Driving Ford
Driving Ford is the official blog of Ford India. Established in 1995, Ford in India manufactures and exports automobiles and engines made at its integrated manufacturing facility in Chennai, Tamil Nadu and Sanand, Gujarat. Ford’s current range of award-winning products in India includes the Ford Mustang, Ford EcoSport, Ford Figo, Ford Aspire, and Ford Endeavour.