From Manu Garcia at IAC: “Constellations”

From Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

The universe around us.
Astronomy, everything you wanted to know about our local universe and never dared to ask.

List of 88 constellations in the night sky is divided. It was adopted by the International Astronomical Union in 1930.
Image Shadowxfox – Own work, GFDL,

A constellation, in astronomy, is a conventional cluster of stars, whose position in the night sky is apparently unchanged. Peoples, ancient civilizations generally decided by imaginary lines linking, creating virtual silhouettes on the celestial sphere. In the vastness of space, however, the stars are not necessarily a constellation associated locally; and can be hundreds of light years away from each other. In addition, these groups are completely arbitrary, since different cultures have devised different constellations, including by linking the same stars.

Some constellations were devised centuries ago by the people inhabiting the regions of the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Others, which are further south, received its name from the most recent Europeans to explore these places hitherto unknown for them times, although the peoples who inhabited the southern regions had already named their own constellations according to their beliefs.

It is customary to separate the constellations into two groups, depending celestial Hemisphere where they are:

northern constellations, located north of the celestial Ecuador
southern constellations in the south.

Since 1928, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) officially decided to regroup the celestial sphere in 88 constellations with precise boundaries, so that every point in the sky to stay within the limits of a figure. Before that year, they were recognized other minor constellations that then fell into oblivion; many, no longer remembered. The work of the constellations final delimitation was carried out mainly by the Belgian astronomer Eugène Joseph Delporte and published by the IAU in 1930.

To learn more follow the link.

Constellations of the Northern Hemisphere. Screenshot made on the date and location in the lower frame of the image.

The stars that can be seen on a clear night are certain figures we call “constellations” and they serve to more easily locate the position of the stars.

In total, there are 88 groups of stars that appear on the celestial sphere and take their name from religious or mythological figures, animals or objects. This term also refers to defined areas of the celestial sphere comprising groups named stars.

Drawings oldest known constellations show that the constellations had already been established 4000 BC The Sumerians gave the name to the constellation Aquarius, in honor of their god An, who pours the water of immortality on Earth. Babylonians had divided into 12 equal zodiac signs to 450 BC

Current constellations of the northern hemisphere who knew little of the Chaldeans and the ancient Egyptians differ. Homer and Hesiod mentioned constellations and the Greek poet Aratus of Soli, gave a verse description of 44 constellations in their Phaenomena. Ptolemy, Greek astronomer and mathematician, in the Almagest, described 48 constellations, of which 47 are still know by the same name.

Many other cultures grouped stars in constellations, although not always correspond to those of the West. However, some Chinese constellations resemble Western, which suggests the possibility of a common origin.

In the late sixteenth century, the first European explorers of the South Seas drew maps of the southern hemisphere. The Dutch navigator Pieter Dirckz Keyser, who participated in the exploration of the East Indies in 1595 added new constellations. They were later added other southern constellations by German astronomer Johann Bayer, who published the first comprehensive atlas celestial hemisphere.

Many others proposed new constellations, but astronomers finally agreed on a list of 88. However, the boundaries of the constellations topic of discussion remained until 1930, when the International Astronomical Union set such limits.

Constellations of the Southern Hemisphere. Screenshot made on the date and location in the lower frame of the image.

Constellations 1

Constellations II

Constellations III

Constellations IV

Constellations V

To designate the approximately 1,300 bright stars, the genitive of the name of constellations, preceded by a Greek letter used; This system was introduced by Johann Bayer. For example, the famous star Algol in the constellation Perseus, is called Beta Persei.

Among the best known constellations are those found in the plane of the orbit of the Earth on the background of fixed stars. Are the constellations of the Zodiac. Besides these, some well-known Southern Cross are visible from the hemisferiosur, and Ursa Major, visible from the Northern Hemisphere. These and other constellations allow to locate the position of important reference points, for example, the celestial poles.

Most constellation of the celestial sphere is the Hydra, containing 68 stars visible to the naked eye. Southern Cross, meanwhile, is the smallest constellation more information.

The following table is organized alphabetically, according to the Latin nomenclature (general purpose). It also includes the abbreviation generally given to each constellation, the genitive and the Spanish name, link article.

Screenshots made with Stellarium.
To learn more about Stellarium follow the link:

See the full article here .


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The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias(IAC) is an international research centre in Spain which comprises:

The Instituto de Astrofísica, the headquarters, which is in La Laguna (Tenerife).
The Centro de Astrofísica en La Palma (CALP)
The Observatorio del Teide (OT), in Izaña (Tenerife).
The Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM), in Garafía (La Palma).

Roque de los Muchachos Observatory is an astronomical observatory located in the municipality of Garafía on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands, at an altitude of 2,396 m (7,861 ft)

These centres, with all the facilities they bring together, make up the European Northern Observatory(ENO).

The IAC is constituted administratively as a Public Consortium, created by statute in 1982, with involvement from the Spanish Government, the Government of the Canary Islands, the University of La Laguna and Spain’s Science Research Council (CSIC).

The International Scientific Committee (CCI) manages participation in the observatories by institutions from other countries. A Time Allocation Committee (CAT) allocates the observing time reserved for Spain at the telescopes in the IAC’s observatories.

The exceptional quality of the sky over the Canaries for astronomical observations is protected by law. The IAC’s Sky Quality Protection Office (OTPC) regulates the application of the law and its Sky Quality Group continuously monitors the parameters that define observing quality at the IAC Observatories.

The IAC’s research programme includes astrophysical research and technological development projects.

The IAC is also involved in researcher training, university teaching and outreach activities.

The IAC has devoted much energy to developing technology for the design and construction of a large 10.4 metre diameter telescope, the ( Gran Telescopio CANARIAS, GTC), which is sited at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos.

Gran Telescopio Canarias at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, SpainGran Telescopio CANARIAS, GTC