The night sky is divided into 88 constellations to help identify the patterns. Most of the constellations were created in Ancient times but 40 were created in more recent times to fill gaps in the night sky. The newer ones include Microscopium and Telescopium . This page concerns the Greek constellations as opposed to the Chinese constellations.
|Constellation||Sq. Deg.||Area %|
The largest constellation is Hydra, the water monster which lies south of the Ecliptic, that is the solar equator. The brightest star in the constellation is Alphard which is also the star with the Alpha designation. The constellation is supposed to represent the sea monster that Hercules was said to have slain as part of his twelve labours for killing his family.
Virgo is the first of two Zodiac constellations that make the list. It is the largest zodiac constellation which represents Astraea, a daughter of the god Zeus and Themis, goddess. The brightest star in the constellation is Spica which also has the Alpha Bayer designation.
In addition to being the largest Zodiac constellation, it also boasts as having the largest galaxyIC 1101 within its borders. Whilst our galaxy maybe a mere 100,000 light years across, the IC 1101 galaxy is reputed to be 4 millions light years across.
The first exoplanet was discovered in this constellation. The planet orbits a pulsar that is called Lich. There is no chance of life on the orbiting planets as they are bathed in particles from the streams as it spins.
The leading contender for the largest star in the constellation is RU Virginis which is about 740 times the size of our own Sun.
Ursa Major or the Great Bear is the largest constellation north of the the Ecliptic. It is the larger of the two bear constellations, the other being Ursa Minor or Little bear, Plough. In ancient mythology, the constellation is said to represent Callisto who had a son with Zeus.
The constellation contains Bode's Galaxy, a galaxy that is similar to our own. Analysis of the galaxy show a large amount of new star formations probably caused by an encounter with a nearby galaxy.
Eridanus is named after the mythical river of the same name. It runs from near Rigel in the constellation of Orion down to near the southern end. Although it is not the largest in terms of sky area, it has the largest number of stars that make up the constellation. It has more stars that make up the constellation than any of the other constellations.
At the top of the constellation is Cursa which is the second brightest in the constellation. As it snakes its way down the constellation, other notable stars include Keid which is where Vulcan, the home planet of Spock from the Star Trek television sries is from.
Also at the top is the Witch Head Nebula so called because it resembles a witches head. It is lit up by the nearby constellation Rigel which is in the neighbouring constellation Orion as mentioned earlier.
At the very bottom of the constellation, the furthest you can get from Cursa is Achernar which is the brightest star in the constellation. It is an odd oval shaped blue star rather than a spherical shaped star like our own star, the Sun.
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