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Constellations: their names, characteristics and history


The black, bottomless night sky, dotted with myriads of stars, hypnotizes, makes you remember the infinity of the Universe. Who, looking in childhood at the stars of the Milky Way scattered across the sky, did not ask questions like:

  • What are these stars?
  • Why are they so located and why do the stars twinkle?
  • Where did the names of stars and constellations come from?

The beautiful names of constellations and stars have their origins in the mythology of ancient peoples. Therefore, many famous constellations were given the names of mythical characters.

Constellations with the names of the signs of the zodiac

Constellation Taurus

Constellations: their names, characteristics and historyStudying the photos and their names of the constellations in the sky, you can start with the constellation Taurus, which in ancient times was associated with the spring revival of nature and the beginning of the year. In those days, cattle breeding was the most important activity of people, so they took the calf (bull) to the constellation, the appearance of which in the spring sky meant the arrival of heat.

Aries constellation

Constellations: their names, characteristics and historyParents, showing in childhood to their children the constellations for children in pictures, pointing to the constellation Aries (ram), at the same time told a wonderful myth about the Golden Fleece and the travels of the Argonauts.

Constellation Gemini

Constellations: their names, characteristics and historyIt is named after the Argonauts of the Dioscuri – Pollux and Castor, whom Leda gave birth to from Zeus himself. The heads of the twins are the two brightest stars in this constellation. This couple was considered among the ancient Greeks as the patroness of sailors caught in a storm.

Constellations of Scorpio and Orion

Constellations: their names, characteristics and historyNeptune had a son, the giant Orion, an excellent hunter. But he boasted too much about his victories over animals, for which Hera sent a scorpion against him. Zeus placed Orion in the sky so that the scorpion could not overtake him. Therefore, it is impossible to see these two constellations at the same time in the sky – this is easy to check by looking at the pictures of the constellation.

Constellation Cancer

Constellations: their names, characteristics and historyThis is a very inconspicuous constellation. But once upon a time, people used it to determine the longest day of the year – the summer solstice. On this day, the luminary rises as far as possible to the north, after which it begins to recede, and the daylight hours begin to decrease.

Constellation Leo

Constellations: their names, characteristics and historyAlso associated with the summer solstice. Long before the constellation of Cancer was chosen as a landmark, people determined a significant day precisely by this constellation, because the lion is a symbol of fire.

Constellation Virgo

Constellations: their names, characteristics and historyIt is adjacent to the Lion, and the ancients saw in their neighborhood the figure of the mythical Sphinx.

Constellation Libra

Constellations: their names, characteristics and historyMost likely, this symbol of balance was the mark of the autumnal equinox.

Constellation Sagittarius

Constellations: their names, characteristics and historyThe sun sets here in winter, so in the constellation they saw the change of one year to another. The shooter has two faces:

  • one is turned to the future;
  • the other is turned to the past.

It is in the direction of Sagittarius that the center of our Milky Way galaxy is located.

Constellation Capricorn

Constellations: their names, characteristics and historyThis mythical creature has a goat body and head, and a fish tail. The god Pan, the patron of shepherds, forests and fields, frightened by the hundred-headed Typhon, rushed into the water in a panic, after which he grew a fish tail. Zeus, taking pity, turned the poor fellow into the constellation Capricorn, portending storms and heavy rainfall.

Constellation Aquarius

Constellations: their names, characteristics and historyIn Egypt, it rose with the rise of the Nile. The Egyptians believed that Khnum, the god of water, was pouring water from a huge ladle into the river.

Constellation Pisces

Constellations: their names, characteristics and historyHere you can see the contours of a pair of fish tied with a ribbon. The Phoenicians depicted the goddess of fertility with a fish tail. The Phoenicians traded in fishing, which was most successful when the Sun passed through this constellation.

Constellation stories intertwined with myths

Constellation ship Argo

Constellations: their names, characteristics and historyThere was once such a constellation, but later it was divided into separate constellations:

  • Stern;
  • Keel;
  • Sail;
  • then Compass was added.

Constellations Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, and Bootes

Constellations: their names, characteristics and historyHaving studied the pictures of the constellation Ursa Major, you can recall different versions of the origin of the names of both Ursa, for example, this one:

Lycaon, king of Arcadia, had an amazingly beautiful daughter, Callisto. So beautiful that Zeus himself was tempted by her, who appeared before her in the form of the handsome Apollo. But his wife Hera, learning about this, became angry and turned the beauty into a terrible bear. Somehow, the son of this sin – Arkad, returning from hunting, saw a wild bear near the house and wanted to kill her, but Zeus prevented the murder of his mother, taking her to heaven, where she turned into the Big Dipper. And Ursa Minor, the Thunderer made his beloved dog Callisto’s beloved.

So that Arkad would always take care of his mother, the supreme god would shelter him in the sky, where he became the constellation Bootes. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the name of the constellations and stars in the spring sky, because the main star of Bootes Arcturus is translated as "guardian of the bear."

Constellation Cassiopeia

Constellations: their names, characteristics and historyAccording to ancient Greek mythology, Ethiopia was once ruled by the ruler Cepheus and his wife Cassiopeia, who had a beautiful daughter, Andromeda. One day, the queen inadvertently boasted to the sea goddesses – Nereids of the beauty of herself and her daughter. Those, being themselves beauties, were indignant and began to demand from Father Poseidon to punish Cassiopeia. He sent a monstrous whale to the country, which began to devastate it. The royal couple chose their daughter as an atoning sacrifice. She was chained to the coastal rocks, where the denouement was to come. Fortunately, at that moment Perseus was rushing over Ethiopia on a winged Pegasus with the just severed head of the Gorgon Medusa. Seeing that the ugly monster was about to devour the beauty, Perseus took out the head of the Gorgon and showed it to the monster, who instantly petrified from this. So Perseus saved Andromeda and, Of course, as a token of gratitude, he received her as his wife. As a result of this story, the following constellation names appeared in the sky:

  • Cassiopeia;
  • Andromeda;
  • Cepheus;
  • Whale;
  • Perseus;
  • Pegasus.

Later constellation names

Exploring what constellations are, their pictures and names, you can see that the constellations that appeared already in modern times changed the subject of names: Compasses, Telescope, Pump, Compass, Lizard, Altar, Fly, Unicorn, Giraffe.

Others are associated with the era of geographical discoveries: Triangle, Southern Cross, Indian, Dolphin, Flying Fish, Peacock.