These Constellations

Venus and Jupiter are strikingly close these days with a fine waxing crescent moon.

I have been using the free program Stellarium to learn and teach the Greek constellations. It is a great way to accustom the eye to look for patterns. Bring up the sky image and set the time for midnight or so. Then--
  • Turn off cardinal points
  • Turn off Constellation lines
  • Turn off Constellation names
  • And if you explore Sky and Viewing Options, then Star Lore, you can switch to a culture different from Greek, such as Navajo. They have different constellations and different names for stars.

Then, you can explore the sky and try to identify what you're looking at without hints. Switch back to "Western" in the Star Lore section to see if those really are the Pleiades!

Here are the top constellations with stars:

  • Auriga (with Capella)
  • Gemini (with Pollux, Castor)
  • Orion (with Betelgeuse, Rigel)
  • Pleiades
  • Taurus (with Aldebaron)/li>

  • Andromeda
  • Pegasus
  • Pisces (smaller) (with Fomalhaut)

  • Aquila (with Altair)
  • Cygnus (with Deneb)
  • Hercules
  • Lyra (with Vega)

  • Big Dipper
  • Casseopia
  • Cephus
  • Draco
  • Little Dipper

Then the real test: a clear night. And if you can find one constellation, you might find all of them.

Try reading from Bulfinch's Mythology about the constellations. I also like the appearance of one of the Pleiades (Maia) in P. L. Traver's Mary Poppins. Try it and see.

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