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ConStellations

iMost of the stars we see have little relation to one another, but people are very good at finding patterns and throughout history have grouped stars that appear close to one another into configurations called constellations.  Different cultures have had different constellations, although a few of the more obvious ones tend to appear over and over again - e.g. [[Orion]] and [[Scorpius]].

The IAU divides the sky into 88 official constellations with precise boundaries, so that every direction belongs to exactly one constellation.  These are mostly based upon the constellations of the ancient Greek tradition, passed down through the Middle Ages.  The zodiac includes the following 12:

* [[Aries]], the ram
* [[Taurus]], the bull
* [[Gemini]], the twins
* [[Cancer]], the crab
* [[Leo]], the lion
* [[Virgo]], the virgin
* [[Libra]], the scales
* [[Scorpius]], the scorpion
* [[Sagittarius]], the archer
* [[Capricornus]], the sea goat
* [[Aquarius]], the water carrier
* [[Pisces]], the fish

Plus [[Ptolemy]] listed the following additional constellations:

* [[Andromeda]]
* [[Aquila]], the eagle
* [[Ara]], the altar
* ArgoNavis, the ship of the argonauts, since divided into [[Carina]], [[Puppis]], [[Pyxis]], and [[Vela]]
* [[Auriga]], the charioteer
* [[Bootes]], the herdsman
* CanisMajor, the greater dog
* CanisMinor, the lesser dog
* [[Cassiopeia]]
* [[Centaurus]], the centaur
* [[Cepheus]]
* [[Cetus]], the whale
* CoronaAustralis, the southern crown
* CoronaBorealis, the northern crown
* [[Corvus]], the raven
* [[Crater]], the cup
* [[Cygnus]], the swan
* [[Delphinus]], the dolphin
* [[Draco]], the dragon
* [[Equuleus]], the little horse
* [[Eridanus]], the river
* [[Hercules]]
* [[Hydra]], the water snake
* [[Lepus]], the hare
* [[Lupus]], the wolf
* [[Lyra]], the lyre
* [[Ophiucus]], the serpent-bearer
* [[Orion]], the hunter
* [[Pegasus]]
* [[Perseus]]
* PiscisAustrinus, the southern fish
* [[Sagitta]], the arrow
* [[Serpens]], the serpent
* [[Triangulum]], the triangle
* UrsaMajor, the greater bear
* UrsaMinor, the lesser bear

In more recent times this list has been added to, first to fill gaps between Ptolemy's patterns (the Greeks considered the sky as including both constellations and dim spaces between) and second to fill up the southern sky as explorers sailed where they could see it.  The new constellations are:

* [[Antlia]], the pump
* [[Apus]], the bird of paradise
* [[Caelum]], the chisel
* [[Camelopardis]], the giraffe
* CanesVenatici, the hunting dogs
* [[Chamaeleon]]
* [[Circinus]], the drawing compasses
* [[Columba]], the dove
* ComaBerenices (traditional Asterism), Berenice's hair
* [[Crux]], the cross
* [[Dorado]], the swordfish
* [[Fornax]], the furnace
* [[Grus]], the crane
* [[Horologium]], the clock
* [[Hydrus]], the water snake
* [[Indus]], the Indian
* [[Lacerta]], the lizard
* LeoMinor, the lesser lion
* [[Lynx]]
* [[Mensa]] - originally Mons Mensae, table mountain
* [[Microscopium]], the microscope
* [[Monoceros]], the unicorn
* [[Musca]], the fly
* [[Norma]], the square
* [[Octans]], the octant
* [[Pavo]], the peacock
* [[Phoenix]]
* [[Pictor]] - originally Equuleus Pictoris, the painter's easel
* [[Reticulum]], the reticle
* [[Sculptor]]
* [[Scutum]], the shield
* [[Sextans]], the sextant
* [[Telescopium]], the telescope
* TriangulumAustrale, the southern triangle
* [[Tucana]], the toucan
* [[Volans]] - originally Piscis Volans, the flying fish
* [[Vulpecula]] - originally Vulpecula Cum Ansere, the fox with the goose

There were also other constellations that didn't make the cut, most notably QuadransMuralis (now part of [[Bootes]]) for which the QuadrantidMeteors are named.  Various other less official patterns have existed alongside the constellations called asterisms, such as the BigDipper and LittleDipper.