Word of the Week
Constellation (con-stah-lay-shun): A name given to a group of stars that make up a certain pattern. Stelladerives from Latin, meaning “set with stars”.
Saturday, September 26th is Fall Astronomy Day. Astronomy is a fancy word for the science of studying things in outer space. . .including stars! There are millions and millions of stars in our galaxy. So many, that it’s hard to know where to begin. I’ve always loved looking up at the sky and searching for constellations. It’s something that anyone can learn to do, so I’ve decided to share some fun constellation facts with you.
· There are 88 officially recognized constellations.
Go to starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov to learn more.
· Before the compass was invented, people used the stars to navigate.
· The sun is a star. . .and it’s the closest star to Earth.
· The average star is between 1 and 10 billion years old.
· Most of the stars in the sky are bigger and brighter than the sun.
· You can only see 2,000 stars on a very dark night with just your eyes.
So let’s dive into constellations a little further. Many constellations are named after stories from ancient Greek and Roman mythology. One constellation that will be easy to spot this fall is Orion. In fact, this constellation will become brighter and easier to see as the winter months approach.
Here’s a little bit about Orion. Orion is one of the largest constellations in the sky. It was named after the hunter Orion from Greek mythology. Orion was such a good hunter, that he stopped following the rules of only hunting animals that put him in danger. To protect the animals, the Earth Spirit, Gaea, put a stop to his hunting. His hourglass shape can be seen in the night sky so that his story can be shared for all of time.
I can’t really tell you where to find Orion, because I don’t know where you live or when you’ll be looking. Here are a few pointers I do have for you! You need to use your imagination a little bit.
- The hourglass shape is Orion.
- The three stars in a straight line in the middle of the hourglass is his belt.
- His bow is made up of the six stars to the right.
If you have trouble finding Orion in the night sky, I have a nifty activity for you. You can bring Orion into your own home with a few simple supplies. Enjoy this week’s activity! Maybe we will have to revisit constellations for Spring Astrology Day!