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Andromeda 
   Andromeda is one of the oldest constellations in the
sky.  It represents a mythological princess,  the daughter
of Cepheus and Cassiopeia (also constellations).  She
was chained to a rock to be killed by the sea monster Cetus
(also a constellation) as punishment for her mother's
boast of being more beautiful than the Nerieds.  She was
rescued by Perseus (also a constellation).  Perseus had
recently killed Medusa,  and by showing the severed head
to Cetus,  turned the creature to stone.  All these
constellations are in the same rough area of the sky.
(The inclusion of Pegasus in the myth is a the creation of
more modern writers.)
   Andromeda is most noted for containing M-31,  the
spiral galaxy nearest to our own (about 2 million
light-years away.)  A sharp-eyed observer will spot it
as a fuzzy patch of light.


Antlia 
   Antlia,  the Air Pump,  is a creation of the French
astronomer La Caille.  It contains no stars of great note.


Apus 
  Apus,  the Bird of Paradise,  is one of twelve southern
constellations created by Keyzer.


Aquila 
   Aquila,  the Eagle,  is named after the bird sent to
carry Ganymede to the heavens in Roman mythology.  It is
a fairly prominent summer constellation.


Aquarius 
   Aquarius,  the Water Bearer, is one of the 12
constellations in the zodiac,  and is a fairly ancient
grouping.  The Egyptians believed that its rising just
before sunrise brought water,  and therefore fertility,
to their land.


Ara 
   Ara,  the Altar,  is one of the few constellations that
looks like the object it is named for.  It contains only
dim stars,  and little of great interest.


Aries 
   Aries,  the Ram,  is one of the 12 constellations in
the zodiac,  represents the ram with the Golden Fleece,
the goal of the Argonautic expedition.


Auriga 
   Auriga,  the Charioteer,  has also been represented as
a bearded man carrying a goat,  while the Greeks saw it as
a lame man riding a horse.  It may represent the god
Neptune,  who is often shown in a chariot drawn by sea
horses.


Bootes 
   Bootes,  the Herdsman,  is one of the oldest
constellations,  mentioned in the Odyssey.  Its brightest
star,  Arcturus,  was one of the first noted to move by
Edmund Halley (better known for Halley's Comet.)


Caelum 
   Caelum,  the Chisel,  is a small constellation formed
by the French astronomer La Caille.


Camelopardalis 
   Camelopardalis,  the Giraffe,  occupies a huge part of
the far northern sky.  It is somewhat modern,  formed by
Bartschius in 1614.  Despite its great extent,  it has no
bright stars.


Capricornus 
   Capricornus,  the Goat,  is one of the twelve
constellations in the Zodiac.  It was once the point where
the Sun reached its lowest point in the sky,  at the
winter solstice,  and therefore gave its name to the
Tropic of Capricorn.


Carina 
   Carina,  the Keel of a Ship,  used to be part of Argo
Navis,  an enormous constellation since split into Carina,
Puppis,  and Vela.  It contains Canopus,  the second
brightest star in the sky.  Canopus cannot be seen from
north of about the 38th parallel.


Cassiopeia 
   Cassiopeia is usually associated with the myth of
Andromeda.  It is one of the better-known groups, probably
because its W shape makes it easy to find.  She is usually
drawn as being bound to a chair.


Centaurus 
   Centaurus,  the Centaur,  is noted in part for the
globular cluster Omega Centauri,  and also for its
brightest star,  Alpha Centauri,  the star nearest to our
own.  This star is really two stars,  one almost a twin
of our own,  the other a little dimmer and more orange.
These two orbit one another every eighty years.  A third,
very dim star (Proxima Centauri,  discovered in 1913) is
about two degrees away,  orbiting the other two in about
a million years.


Cepheus 
   Cepheus is the mythological father of Andromeda.  The
constellation is best known for Delta Cephei,  the
original Cepheid variable.  This star varies in brightness
by about 1.2 magnitudes in a period of 5.4 days.


Cetus 
   Cetus,  the Sea Monster,  figures into the myth of
Andromeda.  Its most famous object is Omicron Ceti,  or
Mira,  a prototype long period variable star.  It ranges
from below magnitude 10 to about mag 3,  and sometimes
brighter,  in an irregular cycle of about 330 days.
   Cetus also contains Tau Ceti,  a star similar to our
own except dimmer,  and a mere eleven light-years away.
This has made it a favorite of those looking for extra-
terrestrial life,  one of the first subjects of the early
radio searches,  and a favorite of science fiction
writers.


Chamaeleon 
   Chamaeleon,  the Chameleon,  is one of several formed
by the astronomer Keyzer in the early 1600s.


Circinus 
   Circinus,  the Compass,  occupies a small piece of the
southern sky.  It contains little of note.


Canis Major 
   Canis Major,  the Big Dog,  is mostly noted for Sirius,
the Dog Star.  Sirius was important to the ancient
Egyptians because it rose just before the Nile flooded.
It is the brightest star in the sky,  mostly because it
is close to us (8.6 light-years).


Canis Minor 
   Canis Minor,  the Little Dog,  is,  with Canis Major,
one of the two dogs following at the heels of Orion.  It
is most noted for the star Procyon,  a relatively nearby
star (11.5 light-years).


Cancer 
   Cancer,  the Crab,  is one of the twelve Zodiacal
constellations.  Its most interesting objects are the two
open clusters,  M-44 (the Praesepe cluster) and M-67.


Columba 
   Columba,  the Dove,  was originally called Columba
Noae,  the Dove of Noah.   It contains little of note.


Coma Berenices 
   Coma Berenices,  Berenice's Hair,  was named when an
Egyptian Pharaoh's sister,  Berenice,  offered her severed
hair to Venus if her husband returned safely from the
Syrian wars.  He did,  and Zeus took the hair and placed
it in the sky.
   Because the constellation is far from the plane of
our own galaxy,  it is easy to find many external
galaxies here.


Corona Australis 
   Corona Australis,  the Southern Crown,  is one of the
48 constellations originally drawn up by Ptolemy in the
2nd century.


Corona Borealis 
   Corona Borealis,  the Northern Crown,  is a brighter,
more northerly version of Corona Australis.
   The constellation contains two noted variable stars:
R CrB,  a star usually of magnitude 6 that sometimes
drops down to magnitude 12,  probably because of carbon
particles in its atmosphere absorbing the light;  and T
CrB,  a recurring nova.
   In legend,  this crown was given to Ariadne,  wife of
Theseus,  by the god Bacchus as a consolation after
Theseus left her,  and was placed in the sky after
Ariadne's death.


Crater 
   Crater,  the Cup,  is associated with the myth of
Corvus.  It is very inconspicuous,  but was one of the
original 48 constellations of Ptolemy.


Crux 
   Crux,  the Southern Cross,  is,  in area,  the smallest
constellation.  It was made a constellation in the early
1600s,  and is noted for being closely aligned to the
South celestial Pole.
   The southeastern corner is mostly filled with the Coal
Sack,  an area of dust and gas that obscures stars behind
it.


Corvus 
   Corvus,  the Crow,  is one of the 48 constellations
originally drawn up by Ptolemy in the 2nd century.
Several legends are attached to this constellation,  among
them,  that being sent by Apollo with a cup to get water,
he waited under a fig tree for the fruit to ripen.  He
then returned to the god carrying a water snake,  alleging
that this was the cause of his delay.  In punishment for
his lie,  he was thrown into the sky with the Cup (Crater)
and Snake (Hydra).


Canes Venatici 
   Canes Venatici,  the Hunting Dogs,  was set up in the
late 17th century to fill in a gap between constellations.
It is just south of Ursa Major.  It contains three objects
of note:  M3,  a globular cluster of over 10,000 stars in
a sphere 65 light-years across;  M-51,  the famous
Whirlpool Galaxy,  and M-63,  another spiral galaxy.


Cygnus 
   Cygnus,  the Swan,  is also called the Northern Cross.
Its brightest star,  Deneb Cygni (mixed Arabic and Latin
for the Tail of the Swan),  is 30,000 times brighter than
the Sun.  Only its great distance (1,600 light-years)
makes it appear as dim as it does.


Delphinus 
   Delphinus,  the Dolphin,  is a compact,  kite-shaped
grouping with no notable objects in it.


Dorado 
   Dorado is supposed to represent a goldfish (not the
small version found in fishtanks,  but a larger ocean-
dwelling fish).  It contains the Large Magellanic Cloud,
an irregular galaxy that orbits our own.  The LMC was
first noted by Europeans during Magellan's expedition.


Draco 
   Draco,  the Dragon,  was said to be the snake snatched
by Minerva from the giants and whirled to the sky,  or the
monster whose teeth Jason sowed to raise the crop of armed
men.  One of its stars,  Thuban,  was the North Star about
2750 BC.


Equuleus 
   Equuleus,  the Little Horse,  dates back to the old
constellations of the Babylonians.  It doesn't contain
anything of note.


Eridanus 
   Eridanus,  the River,  was the Nile to the Egyptians
and the Euphrates to the Babylonians.  The Greeks and
Romans simply knew it as "the River".  Its brightest star,
Achernar,  is at its southernmost end,  invisible to those
in northern latitudes.  It is possibly the river used by
Hercules to flush out the Augean stables.


Fornax 
   Fornax,  the Chemical Furnace,  was named by La Caille
to be one of Sculptor's tools.


Gemini 
   Gemini,  the Twins,  is one of the twelve groups of the
Zodiac.  The Twins,  Castor and Pollux,  were the sons
of Leda and Jupiter and brothers to Helen of Troy.  They
were appointed by Jupiter to be guardians of Rome,  and
were among the Argonauts with Jason.
  The constellation includes the noted open cluster M-35.


Grus 
   Grus,  the Crane,  is one of the groups formed by
Keyzer in the late 1500s.


Hercules 
   Hercules probably dates back to the Sumerians.  Their
version was Gilgamesh.  At the time (3000 BC),  Hercules
(or Gilgamesh) would have appeared upright;  precession
now leaves him head down.
   Hercules is associated with several other
constellations.  Hydra may represent the sea serpent he
killed.  Leo may represent the Nemean Lion.  Eridanus may
represent the river used to flush out the Augean stables.
Cancer,  Lupus,  and Centaurus also figure into the
Herculean labors.
   Alpha Herculis is a cool,  reddish star,  possibly as
large as 60 AU across.  If so,  it's the largest known
star.
   M-13,  the Great Hercules Cluster,  is also in this
constellation.


Horologium 
   Horologium,  the Clock,  is one of several astronomical
instrument constellations added by La Caille in the middle
1700s.  It is supposed to be an old-style pendulum clock of
the variety astronomers used at that time.


Hydra 
   Hydra is either derived from the unusual beast killed
by Hercules,  or (more probably) the water snake in the
Corvus myth.  It is,  in area,  the largest constellation.


Hydrus 
   Hydrus,  the Sea Serpent,  is a far-south creation of
Keyzer in the late 1500s.


Indus 
   Indus,  the (American) Indian,  is another creation of
Keyzer.  None of its stars are very interesting, except
possibly for Epsilon Indi,  a star at the relatively
nearby distance of 11.4 light-years.
   The constellation may refer to the Amazonian queen
Hyppolyta,  whose golden girdle was an objective of a
labor of Hercules.


Lacerta 
   Lacerta,  the Lizard,  was created by the astronomer
Hevelius in 1690,  using outlying stars from Cygnus and
Andromeda.


Leo 
   Leo,  the Lion,  is one of the twelve original groups
in the Zodiac.  Its western part,  which resembles a
sickle,  is sometimes referred to separately as "the
Sickle",  in much the way that the Big Dipper is referred
to separately from Ursa Major.


Lepus 
   Lepus,  the Hare,  is one of the 48 constellations
originally recognized by Ptolemy.  It lies just below
Orion,  and is supposedly being hunted by him.


Libra 
   Libra,  the Scales,  is one of the original twelve
constellations in the Zodiac.  It was originally the
claws of Scorpius.


Leo Minor 
   Leo Minor,  the Little Lion,  is a faint group just
above Leo.  It was added by the astronomer Hevelius in the
late 1600s.


Lupus 
   Lupus,  the Wolf,  is an ancient constellation.  The
name may be an erroneous translation of the Arabic Al
Fahd,  the Leopard or Panther.
   The constellation has undergone some change over time.
It may originally have represented the Erymanthian boar,
which Hercules and the Centaurs hunted.


Lynx 
   Lynx is another late-1600s creation of Hevelius.  He
named it thus because of the eyesight required to find
much of anything in this barren area.


Lyra 
   Lyra,  the Lyre,  represents the instrument invented
by Hermes and given to his half-brother,  Apollo,  who
turned it over to his son Orpheus,  the musician of the
Argonauts,  who used it to lure the Argonauts away from
the music of the Sirens.  Also,  this lyre was used in
Orpheus's failed attempt to rescue his wife,  Eurydice,
from Hades.  After Orpheus' death,  Jupiter put the lyre
in the sky.
   Lyra was often described as either a vulture or a
tortoise.  Hermes made the first lyre by putting strings
across a tortoise shell.
   Its brightest star,  Vega,  is a bluish-white star 27
light-years from us.  Beta Lyrae is an interesting
variable star,  the prototypical example of the Beta Lyrae
class of variable.


Mensa 
   Mensa,  the Table,  is another mid-18th century
creation of La Caille.


Microscopium 
   Microscopium,  the Microscope,  is another example of
a scientific instrument made constellation by La Caille in
the mid-18th century.


Monoceros 
   Monoceros,  the Unicorn,  contains many telescopic
clusters.  It is noted for the irregular variable S Mon.


Musca 
   Musca,  the Fly,  was known as Apis,  the Bee,  in the
Bayer catalog of 1603.  It is a Keyzer constellation.
Someone,  possibly Halley (more noted for noticing that
Halley's comet returns at 76-year intervals),  changed it
from a bee to a fly later on.


Norma 
   Norma,  the Level or Square,  was originally Norma et
Regula,  the Square and Level,  and was created by
La Caille to represent tools that Sculptor would use.


Octans 
   Octans,  the Octant,  contains the south celestial
pole.  It is a La Caille creation,  named after the once
important navigational device that was replaced by the
sextant (also a constellation, Sextans).


Ophiuchus 
   Ophiuchus,  the Serpent Handler, is usually associated
with Aesculapius,  the ship's surgeon on the Argo.  He
became so skilled after the voyage that he even returned
the dead to life,  including one case (Hippolyte) where
the patient had been drawn and quartered.  At Neptune's
request,  Aesculapius glued the pieces together and
restored them to life.  Such successes,  and the attempt
to revive the dead Orion,  led Pluto to worry he might be
put out of business,  so he induced Jove to strike
Aesculapius with a thunderbolt and place him in the sky.


Orion 
   Orion,  the Hunter,  is one of the best known groups,
largely because its bright stars and belt make it easy to
pick out.  It contains many interesting objects:  the
Orion Nebula around the "sword";  Betelgeuse,  one of
the better-known and studied red giants;  and a large
number of young,  blue- and white-hot stars.  It is
accompanied by the Hunting Dogs, Canis Major and Canis
Minor,  going after the Hare, Lepus.
   Orion is supposed to have boasted that no animal could
kill him.  Jupiter therefore sent a scorpion to do the
job,  and then put Orion and the scorpion, Scorpius,  in
opposite parts of the sky.


Pavo 
   Pavo,  the Peacock,  is a southern creation of Keyzer.
It has one interesting globular cluster,  NGC 6752,
and a Cepheid variable,  Kappa Pavonis,  which varies from
magnitude 4.0 to 5.5 in just over nine days.



Pegasus 
   Pegasus,  the Winged Horse,  was the mythological child
of Neptune and Medusa,  raised by Neptune from Medusa's
blood when it fell into the sea after Perseus severed her
head.
   Of the four stars making up the Square of Pegasus,  that
in the northeast corner,  Alpheratz,  is now considered to
be in Andromeda.  It thus has been labeled Alpha Andromeda
or Delta Pegasi.


Perseus 
   Perseus figures prominently in the legends of
Andromeda.  It is one of the earliest named groups.
   The most interesting object here is Algol (Arabic for
the Demon).  It is an eclipsing binary,  dropping by
about one magnitude for a few hours every 2.867315 days.
Circling the two eclipsing stars is a third,  dimmer star
that completes an orbit around the others every 23 months.


Phoenix 
   Phoenix is another Keyzer constellation,  created in
the late 1500s.  It is not a very prominent constellation.


Pictor 
   Pictor,  the Easel,  is another of Sculptor's tools.
A nova,  RR Pictoris,  flared up near to Alpha Pictoris in
1925;  it is still visible,  though it is difficult to find
see of significance without a large telescope.


Piscis Austrinus 
   Piscis Austrinus,  the Southern Fish,  lies in a
relatively barren part of the sky.  Its brightest star,
Fomalhaut,  is at the fairly close distance of 23
light-years.


Pisces 
   Pisces,  the Two Fish,  is an ancient constellation and
is part of the zodiac.  It is thought that its dual nature
may make a sort of "thirteenth sign".  The Babylonians had
a twelve-month,  360-day calendar;  to get the years to
come out evenly,  they inserted a thirteenth month every
six years,  and it is thought that the extra fish may
represent this thirteenth month.


Puppis 
   Puppis,  the Stern of a Ship,  was once part of the
giant constellation Argo Navis,  since split into Puppis,
Vela (the sail),  and Carina (the keel).  Its
brightest star, Zeta Puppis,  lies at the considerable
distance of 2,400 light-years.  It is an enormous blue-
hot star (spectral type O5).


Pyxis 
   Pyxis,  the Compass,  is associated with the groups
making up Argo Navis,  Puppis the Stern,  Vela the Sail,
and Carina the Keel.  It contains no bright stars.


Reticulum 
   Reticulum,  the Grid,  was created by Isaak Habrecht of
Germany as the Rhombus.  It is supposed to represent the
target grid used in telescopes to find stellar positions.


Sculptor 
   Sculptor is a La Caille creation of the mid-18th
century.  He is usually depicted as surrounded by tools,
such as Caelum (the Chisel),  Pictor (the Easel),
Fornax (the Furnace),  and Norma (the Square).


Scorpius 
   Scorpius,  the Scorpion,  is a constellation of the
zodiac.  Its most interesting object is Antares,  meaning
"rival to Mars" (due to its deep red color).  In myth,  it
represents the scorpion sent by Jupiter to kill Orion.


Scutum 
   Scutum,  the Shield,  contains M-11,  the Wild Duck
cluster.


Serpens 
   Serpens represents the serpent being handled by
Ophiuchus,  the Serpent Handler.  It is the only group
split in half,  the eastern part being Serpens Cauda
(the tail),  the western Serpens Caput (the head),  with
Ophiuchus in between.


Sextans 
   Sextans,  the Sextant,  was added by Hevelius.  It
contains little of note.  It was here that De Rheita
thought he had found a representation of the sacred
handkerchief of Saint Veronica,  leading Sir John Herschel
to note that "many strange things were seen among the
stars before the use of powerful telescopes became
common."


Sagitta 
   Sagitta,  the Arrow,  although an ancient
constellation,  holds little of note.


Sagittarius 
   Sagittarius,  the Archer,  is one of the twelve
constellations of the zodiac.  It marks the direction
to the center of our Galaxy,  and many interesting objects
can be found there.  It contains a vast array of clusters,
nebulae,  and variable stars.  It is usually found either
by the five stars making up the "Milk Dipper",  a small,
upside down group,  or the Teapot,  which is the Milk
Dipper plus three other stars.