For hundreds of years people have looked to the stars to help them sail the oceans, to know when to plant their crops, and when to have religious ceremonies. To make the sky easier to "read" they grouped the brighter stars into recognizable shapes, the constellations.
Today, astromers have divided the sky into 88 sections we call constellations, covering all of the sky. There are 14 men and women, 9 birds, 2 insects, 19 land animals, 10 water creatures, 2 centaurs, 1 head of hair, 1 serpent, 1 dragon, 1 flying horse, 1 river and 29 non-living objects. This total is more than 88 because some constellations (area of the sky) have more than one creature in it.
The star patterns that we see stay in the same shape as they move across the sky. They just slowly shift during the year. Planets, on the other hand, move across the sky against the pattern of stars. Different constellations can be seen in different seasons. This is because of our year-long orbit around the Sun.
Constellations are look flat, but they are not.. All the stars in a constellation are actually different distances away. They look flat to us because we are seeing them from only one "side".
The patterns the stars form look about the same as they did when the constellations were first named
almost 3000 years ago. The ancient Greeks named many of the constellations for their gods and myths.
One of the greatest Arabic astronomers, Al-Sufi, wrote a book in the 900s naming many stars in the Greek
constellations. After the 900s
the Greek books were translated into Latin, the scientific language then. The long history of the names of
constellations and stars tells us why we have Greek constellations, with Latin names, that have stars with