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Brady Yoon
2004-May-18, 03:54 AM
I'm having trouble remembering where some constellations are, especially the obscure zodiac ones... How do you guys remember them? For example, if someone pointed to one of these constellations and said, "What is it?" I would know, but if someone told me, "Where is this constellation, I wouldn't know."

Ophiuchus, Perseus, Aquarius, Aries, Capricornus, Libra, and Pisces. These are the only ones that are really stumping me, especially since I haven't ever seen them in the sky. Too much light pollution...

Thanks.

Candy
2004-May-18, 06:49 AM
I am not sure how accurate the below information is, since I have never really studied astronomy, mythology, or astrology. I found some information from this Web site (http://www.timelessmyths.com/classical/stars.html), so I am not sure of the accuracy. Here is a really cool poster of the Solar System (http://www.printfinders.com/product/artwork.exe?ArtworkID=102916&zoom=1), too. I thought about ordering it, perhaps, I could read it then. :lol:


The Ophiuchus was a name of the "Serpent-holder", was located between the Serpens Caput (Head of the Serpent) and the Serpens Cauda (Tail of the Serpent). The Ophiuchus was said to be staff of Asclepius, known as Serpent-holder. Though there are other explanations of this constellation, such as Triopas driving all the serpents out of the island of Rhodes, or Heracles killing serpents when he was living in Lydia with Queen Omphale.


Perseus, the slayer of the Gorgon Medusa. Perseus was the son of Zeus and Danae. Perseus married Andromeda, and later became the king of Mycenae. See Perseus. The Perseus constellation is situated near Andromeda and Cassopeia, as well as near the zodiac constellations, Aries and Taurus.


Aquarius, the Water-carrier was Ganymede, the son of King Tros of Troy. Zeus had abducted the Trojan youth, because he fell in love with the boy. Ganymede served the gods as a cupbearer in Olympus.

The constellation of Aquarius is situated on the celestial circle between Capricorn and Pisces. The stars in the constellation were no brighter than the 3rd magnitude star, though it does contain a couple of globular clusters and a couple of planetary nebulae.

In astrology, Aquarius is the 11th sign of the zodiac and the period is between January 20 and February 18. Air is the element of Aquarius, and the planet Uranus rules the sign.


Aries, the Golden Fleece saved Phrixus and Helle, the children of Athamas, from being sacrifice. The ram was later the object of the quest with Jason and the Argonauts. See the Argonauts and Athamas in the Aeolids. In the Egyptian myth, the constellation was associated with god Amon.

Aries is located on the celestial circle between the constellations of Pisces and Taurus. The brightest star in the constellation of Aries is Hamal.

In astrology, Aries is the 1st sign of the zodiac, and the period of the Aries is within March 21 and April 19. Fire is the element of Aries, and the planet Mars governed the sign.


Capricorn, a goat-like being named Aegipan. I am not sure if this was just another name for Pan, or it was a magical she-goat. Aegipan escaped from the monster Typhon with the other gods, by transforming herself into a goat, with a tail and lower body of a fish. See also Typhon in the Creation page.

Capricorn resides between the constellations of Sagittarius and Aquarius. None of the stars are bright, but the brightest being Alpha Capricorni, which was only a 3rd magnitude.

In astrology, Capricorn is the 10th zodiacal sign and the period is between December 22 and January 19. Earth is the element of Capricorn, and the planet Saturn rules the sign.


Libra was the constellation of a balance or scale. Libra supposed to represent Astraea, the Roman goddess of divine justice. Or this scale could be Scale of Fates, where Jupiter measured the lives between two people, to see who was doomed to die, such as between Achilles and Hector; it was Hector who was killed that day.

Libra is located between the Virgo and Scorpio in the celestial circle. Zubenegenubi is a double star, was the brightest in this constellation.

In astrology, Libra is the 7th sign of the zodiac that begins on September 23 and ends on October 23. Air is the element of Libra, while the planet Venus ruled this sign.


Fishes (Aphrodite and Eros) escaped from the monster Typhon by leaping into the sea and transforming themselves into fishes. The goddess was grateful of her escape, immortalised their forms as fishes, by placing them in the sky. See also Typhon in the Creation page.

Pisces is situated between the constellations of Aquarius and Aries. None of the stars are particularly bright, but the sun does passed through one of its star during the vernal equinox (previously, the sun had passed through Aries, during ancient time).

In astrology, Pisces is the 12th zodiacal sign and the period begins on February 20 and March 20. The Fishes belonged to the water element, and the planet Neptune ruled Pisces. Usually Pisces is depicted two fishes with a string tied to their tails.

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pmcolt
2004-May-18, 08:06 AM
I'm having trouble remembering where some constellations are, especially the obscure zodiac ones... How do you guys remember them? For example, if someone pointed to one of these constellations and said, "What is it?" I would know, but if someone told me, "Where is this constellation, I wouldn't know."

Ophiuchus, Perseus, Aquarius, Aries, Capricornus, Libra, and Pisces. These are the only ones that are really stumping me, especially since I haven't ever seen them in the sky. Too much light pollution...

Thanks.

I'm still in the process of learning them, myself. I try learning them by what I see in the sky, but my view of the sky is limited. I seem to have the same trouble you do.

I learned the ones I know by learning the easiest (biggest, brightest, most familiar) first, then spreading out and learning the ones between the easy ones. If someone points and asks, I can identify it. If someone asks where a particular one is, I have to think, "Ok, I remember it's right next to this one, and also next to this other one, so it'd be right...there."

Most of the ones you listed are zodaical constellations. An idea for learning them, then, is to look at the astrology section of the paper (hey, might as well use them for something useful) to get the order right. Yes, a regular star chart would work, but then I couldn't've made that astrology crack. Then, find out which ones are near the constellations you can find most easily. Whenever someone asks you "where is Aquarius"?, remember "ok, that's near Capricorn and Pegasus, so... right there." Then handwave, and since you can't see it through the light pollution, they can't either. ;)

Candy
2004-May-18, 01:56 PM
Even young Brady should have a plethora of information to pull from to make learning fun, even if one might think it silly. :wink:

[edit for spelling]

gethen
2004-May-18, 02:12 PM
I think pmcolt's idea is good. Start with the obvious ones like Orion and "star-hop" from there. Although, if you're in a locale with lots of light pollution, some of the dimmer ones may not actually be visible for you from there.

Eroica
2004-May-18, 03:15 PM
Try using first-magnitude stars and distinctive asterisms as guides.

Ophiuchus: between Vega and Antares
Perseus: west of Capella
Aquarius: north of Fomalhaut
Aries: west of the Pleiades
Capricornus: take a line from Vega to Altair (both are members of the Summer Triangle) and extend it south. Altair lies about halfway between Vega and Capricornus
Libra: between Spica and Antares
Pisces: south and east of the Great Square of Pegasus

aurora
2004-May-18, 04:31 PM
I'm having trouble remembering where some constellations are, especially the obscure zodiac ones... How do you guys remember them?

One word, planisphere.

Use it to get your bearings, and as a reminder of what is in that empty space right there (points to area with a scattering of dim stars).

H.A. Rey in The Stars had a handy Mnemonic for the zodiac:

ram bull twins crab liverish, scaley scorpions are good waterfish.

Russ
2004-May-18, 06:55 PM
I'm having trouble remembering where some constellations are, especially the obscure zodiac ones... How do you guys remember them?

One word, planisphere.

Use it to get your bearings, and as a reminder of what is in that empty space right there (points to area with a scattering of dim stars).

H.A. Rey in The Stars had a handy Mnemonic for the zodiac:

ram bull twins crab liverish, scaley scorpions are good waterfish.

Aurora snatched my idea :evil: :x , only I was going to couch it in the famous line from "The Graduate"............Ben...Ben...Ben....I've got one word for you. Planisphere.

Oh well. Aurora was faster on the draw than I. #-o

milli360
2004-May-20, 12:18 PM
H.A. Rey in The Stars had a handy Mnemonic for the zodiac:

ram bull twins crab liverish, scaley scorpions are good waterfish.
ram - aries
bull - taurus
twins - gemini
crab - cancer
li - leo
verish - virgo
scaley - libra (scales of justice)
scorpions - scorpius
are - sagitarrius (archer)
good - capricornus (goat)
water - aquarius
fish - pisces

This mnemonic (http://www.xs4all.nl/~jcdverha/scijokes/11_4.html) is in the same order, different starting place, and uses two or more initial letters--except for taurus, which is easy to remember by "terrible":

AQUAmarine PIeces ARe Terrible GEMs, CAN LEO VIsit the LIBRAry and SCOpe-out the SAGan CAPtions?

Anyone who wants to insert Ophiuchus can scope-Out the sagan captions.

Andromeda321
2004-May-20, 08:32 PM
The way I went about learning constellations is learning the easier ones first with brighter stars. Then I filled in the dark gaps in between by saying "oh, that's cancer right there" or something like that. Dimmer constellations tend to not resemble anything so they're difficult to start remembering on their own without other stars as guides.
After many a star-filled night, however, of getting lost in the sky looking for something I learned the dimmer ones based on what random things they look like to me and what deep sky objects lie within.
If you are interested in mythology and such knowing that helps too. For example, Pegasus, Perseus, Andromeda, Cetus, Cepheus, and Cassiopeia are all part of a story and are hence next to each other. The same applies to Hercules, Leo, Cancer, and Hydra.
Ophiuchus- has an odd-looking y shape of dimmer stars near Bootes, also contains a few nice globulars and currently the planet Pluto.
Perseus- right next to Andromeda and Pegasus, looks like half a tree (aka the trunk and two branches). Contains the double cluster and Algol, which is one of the coolest stars you'll come accross with your naked eye.
Aquarius- between Capricorn and Aries, there's a sort of boxy-looking asterisk. Nice globular cluster hereabouts.
Aries- Three relatively bright stars, that's it, that look like a hockey stick. One of the three is a nice looking double star.
Capricornus- a huge smile for a celestial smilie face, the upper right corner of the smile looks like a double star but the two stars are merely line of sight. Uranus and Neptune currently lurk here.
Libra- a box before Scorpius, pure and simple. Nothing very exciting here but the star names are good tongue twisters.
Pisces- a little circlet under Pegasus. Home to a few deep sky objects but it's too low to my horizon to fully examine.

Eroica
2004-May-21, 10:58 AM
I always use my old friend Pat G Clulsosca to help me remember the order of the thirteen constellations of the zodiac.

Pisces
aaries
taurus

Gemini

Cancer
leo
uirgo (in Latin u and v are the same)
libra
scorpius
ophiuchus
sagittarius
capricornus
aquarius

CJSF
2004-May-21, 02:30 PM
I'm having trouble remembering where some constellations are, especially the obscure zodiac ones... How do you guys remember them? For example, if someone pointed to one of these constellations and said, "What is it?" I would know, but if someone told me, "Where is this constellation, I wouldn't know."

Ophiuchus, Perseus, Aquarius, Aries, Capricornus, Libra, and Pisces. These are the only ones that are really stumping me, especially since I haven't ever seen them in the sky. Too much light pollution...

Thanks.

My problem is that I can find them when they are "right side up" - that is the orientation of the stars is the same as diagrams I have seen. Earlier this year I looked up while outside and caught Gemini and was very proud of myself. Now, if it had been oriented 90 degrees differently, I probably would have missed it.

CJSF

Kaptain K
2004-May-21, 05:59 PM
Perseus ... Contains the double cluster ...
While the double cluster is in Perseus, it is easier to find from Cassiopeia! 8)

aurora
2004-May-21, 06:03 PM
Perseus ... Contains the double cluster ...
While the double cluster is in Perseus, it is easier to find from Cassiopeia! 8)

I agree.

And at certain times of year, you can see a nice trail of stars from Cassiopeia, through the double cluster and Perseus, all the way to the Pleaides. Makes a nice smooth curve across the sky.

Andromeda321
2004-May-22, 08:08 PM
While the double cluster is in Perseus, it is easier to find from Cassiopeia!
Probably true. But I'm lucky in the sense that I can see them with the naked eye most nights when Perseus is high enough and I know where to look. :)