Constellations

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Zodiac Constellations

Thousands of stars can be visible to the naked eye on a clear and dark night. We can create shapes and patterns by using these stars and our creativity. The patterns which are made from a group of stars are called constellations.

Ancient people were aware of these constellations and named them after some objects and animals they resembled. They also made stories about the constellations. For example, the constellation Perseus, Cetus, Andromeda, Cassiopeia, and Pegasus are part of Greek mythology. Different cultures name the constellations by similar names, like Pisces - fish in Greek and Meena - fish in Sanskrit.

Zodiac and Constellations

Since the Earth rotates from west to east, the constellations also appear to move in the sky from west to east. The constellations of the Northern Hemisphere are not visible from the Southern Hemisphere, and vice versa. That's because the Earth is spherical, and some constellations don't fall in the line of sight. However, people from the equator are able to see all the constellations.

All Zodiac Constellations

All total, you can find 12 major constellations that line-up around the sun's path along the sky; otherwise known as ecliptic. These are called as zodiac zodiac constellations: 

Aries (Mesha), Gemini (Mithuna), Taurus (Vrushabha), Leo (Simha), Crab/Cancer (Karka), Virgo (Kanya), Scorpion (Vrushika), Libra (Tula), Capricorn (Makara), Saggitarius (Dhanusha), Aquarius (Kumbha), Pisces (Meena). Initially, these constellations were used to track the movement of the sun and determine the time during ancient times.

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Zodiac Signs and Constellations

The 12 zodiac signs listed in the horoscope closely determine the movement of the Earth through the heavens. The zodiac signs are derived from the constellations, which carve out the sun's path through the universe. It's not like that sun passes through some constellations at a particular date or time of the year, as many people believe. 

A closer observation of the Earth, the sun, and the stars reveal that the zodiac signs are more intricate than we think.

As Earth orbits around the sun, it appears like the sun is passing through different constellations. As the moon appears in a different position on the sky every night, the position of the sun also drifts towards the east with relative to distant stars. The sun doesn't actually move. It appears to be moving due to the movement of the Earth around the sun.

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Constellations and Constellation of Stars

Sometimes, we might have looked up in the sky at night and lost within the stars' wonders. You may also have heard about the constellations, but don't know how to identify the constellations by yourself. 

You shouldn't worry because with some simple orientation and little knowledge about the constellations; you can easily identify the constellations which commonly appear in the night sky.

a. Big Dipper/Ursa Major, 'The Great Bear'

Big Dipper of the great bear is not actually a constellation, but it is a part of the constellation called Ursa Major. The Big Dipper is usually identified in a pattern of stars of the Northern Hemisphere, and hence it is an excellent starting point to begin the search of constellations.

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b. Little Dipper, 'The Little Bear' (Ursa Minor) 

Little Dipper can be spotted by the constellation of Big Dipper. If you look at the two stars which form the right part of the cup and follow the north's straight line, it will lead you to Polaris, the North Star. Polaris is located at the end of Little Dipper's handle, which is actually the Little Bear's cup & tail forms part of the bear's side part.

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c. Orion, 'The Hunter'

It is the easiest constellation to spot in the night sky. Search for three bright stars that form the straight line of the hunter's belt. If you have recognized it, you can easily locate Betelgeuse, the bright star that forms the hunter's armpit, and towards the east, you can locate the hunter's arm holding a bow.

d. Taurus, 'The Bull'

Taurus “The Bull' is easy to locate if you have found the Orion constellation. Taurus is located just above Orion constellation. You can easily locate Taurus if you find the large red star, Aldebaran, which lies near the folk of bull's horn. 

The bottom horn is a part of the Crab Nebula. The Pleiades is a famous star cluster located above the bull. These clusters are lovely and can be seen with the naked eyes.

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e. Gemini, 'The Twins'

Orion is also the key to locate the Gemini constellation. The twins can be found above one of the sides of the hunter's raised arm. The constellation resembles two stick figure twins with touching outstretched arms. Start by locating two bright stars of the twins. The rest of the parts are simple to track. Both twins have heads, torsos, and legs. The left twin appears to lift one leg, perhaps like a small jig.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Name the 13 Zodiac Signs Along With its Dates.

Ans - Here are the correct dates for the zodiac signs:

● Capricorn: Dec 22 - Jan 19.

● Aquarius: Jan 20 - Feb 18.

● Pisces: Feb 19 - Mar 20.

● Aries: Mar 19 - Apr 19

● Taurus: Apr 20 - May 20.

● Gemini: May 21 - Jun 20

● Cancer: Jun 21 - Jul 22

● Leo: Jul 23 - Aug 22.

● Virgo: Aug 23 - Sep 22.

● Libra: Sep 23 - Oct 22.

● Scorpio: Oct 23 - Nov 21.

● Sagittarius: Nov 22 - Dec 21.

2. Write the difference between Constellation and Zodiac.

Ans- Zodiac is (astrology) the belt-like region of the celestial sphere across the ecliptic path of the sun over the course of a year, while constellation is (astronomy) any of the 88 officially recognized regions of the sky which includes the star system.

3. What are Constellations Used For?

Ans- Constellations help people to recognize stars in the sky. The stars are used to locate directions, and hence by looking at star patterns and constellations, it becomes much easier to spot stars. The constellations are also used to keep track of the calendar.

4. What is the Largest Constellation?

Ans- Hydra is the largest constellation of all the 88 recognized constellations. It is an extended, slender, winding region of stars named the sea serpent Hercules of Greek mythology. It stretches across the Northern Hemisphere.