Stargazing and the Moon Week


Part of Stargazing and the Moon

It’s A Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s... a Constellation?

Before television, YouTube, TikTok, or even radio, people had to entertain themselves by telling stories a long time ago. They did that by naming the stars and taking pictures in the sky to tell their stories. Today, we call these pictures constellations.

Constellations are groups of stars connected by an imaginary line to draw a person, animal, or anything else the storyteller wanted. It is important to know that the stars only look close together, but they are very far apart in reality.

Officially, there are 88 constellations, but many of the names we know are asterisms – smaller parts of a larger constellation. For example, the Plough is a famous asterism as it is part of Ursa Major – or Big Bear – constellation.

The brightest stars in constellations were named in ancient times, but nowadays, stars are named based on their location in the celestial sphere – the part of the sky above the Earth that we can see.

We see different constellations at different times of the year because Earth travels around the Sun on its axis, changing the direction we are looking into space. Even as the Earth rotates through the day, you can see that the constellations appear to move across the sky. That is because the Earth is turning and looking at a different section of space all the time.

Check out these Scotland-based stargazers and learn more about the constellations we can see here in Scotland! Don’t forget to try your Constellation Torch, and send us pictures on social media to see your brilliant creations!

Enter Competition

Stargazing in Scotland - Astronomy & Constellations
Make A Constellation Torch Activity
Make A Constellation Torch Activity (PDF)

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