|CONSTELLATIONS - LAB
Most of the stars in a constellation have no real connection with each
other at all. They may all lie at vastly different distances from
Earth, and simply form a pattern by chance. The main stars in each
constellation are labeled with a letter of the Greek alphabet,
the brightest star usually being termed alpha.
The brightness of a star is called
its magnitude. Stars have different brightness for two reasons.
First, stars radiate different amounts of light; more energetic stars
are the brightest . Second, stars lie at vastly differing distances
from the Earth. A small star that is close to the Earth can appear
brighter than a large star that is far away from the Earth.
See if you can find the 88
constellations and then read more about the Zodiac and how
astronomy and astrology are different.
Constellations can help make the
heavens come alike for the observer. Each image in the sky helps to
chart an area so it is easy to identify. A constellation refers to an
entire sector, but there are many patterns that can be identified. An asterism
is a pattern of stars that does not form the main or full pattern of
an "official" constellation. For example, in the northern
hemisphere the Big Dipper is only an asterism of the official Ursa
Major (the Great Bear). Ursa Minor, the Little Bear constellation is
visible in the northern hemisphere all year long. Polaris, the North
Star can be found at the end of the asterism, the Little Dipper. Ursa
Minor was created in the 6th century B.C. as a navigational
aid for sailors. Can you find the Little Dipper in the figure to the