5 Star Constellations Every Stargazer Should be Familiar With
A lot of us look up at the stars for one reason or another. Some people are into astrology and want to know what might be influencing their lives. Others enjoy the beauty of them, whilst some stare skywards with thoughts of what could be out there – or with thoughts of times gone past. You can even use the stars to navigate across the world!
With an uncountable number of stars out there, it’s impossible to know them all. While some people will have the desire to go through a telescope buying guide and becoming a master of the skies, most don’t need that level of depth. it’s always good to know some basic constellations though. They might be useful if you ever get lost, and are at least an impressive piece of knowledge to have – you never know who it might impress! So here are 5 constellations everyone should know!
Big Dipper & Ursa Major
The big dipper is one of the most well-known constellations – even though it isn’t one. The dipper itself is part of the Ursa Major (Great Bear) constellation. The dipper is actually the tail area of the great bear. The dipper is made up of 7 stars which are some of the most visible stars in the sky. The rest of the bear has a huge number of stars based on official definitions, but none are as visible as the big 7. For most astronomers, there are around 12-18 other key stars which might be visible from this constellation without the use of specialist equipment.
Little Dipper (Ursa Minor)
The little dipper (or little bear) is another constellation which is easy to see. The end of the handle for this dipper is actually the north star, which makes it a really useful one to know in the northern hemisphere. By finding the north star you can find your direction if you’re ever lost.
A constellation which has been made more famous by Hollywood is Orion’s belt, which featured heavily in Men in Black. Again it’s quite easy to see, especially the belt which is three bright stars lined up. From there you can line up the slightly duller stars which form the body and legs of this pattern.
Taurus is an ancient constellation with plenty of myths and stories around it’s creation and existence. It’s most easily found by locating Orion, then looking directly above it. There are a few star clusters on and around this constellation which can be beautiful to see. It isn’t the most visible constellation though, your best bet is to use even a weak telescope and get some viewing in around New years, when the constellation is most visible.
Cassiopeia was a mythological queen who was banished to the heavens for her vanity in relation to her beauty. The constellation itself is best viewed around November and is as pretty as expected. The main stars form in a ‘W’ pattern but much shorter and wider than the letter is. With a telescope you’re able to see a number of duller stars which are officially part of this constellation too.