Saturday, June 11, 2011


Since I’m at a summer camp, and we sleep out with the campers once a week, I’m trying to learn new constellations to teach them. Here are a few I can easily find in the summer.

The Big Dipper

Most people (even young kids) can find this. The only person I met who didn’t know where it was is from New Zealand… and they don’t have that constellation there.

It looks like this:

There are seven stars – three for the handle and four for the cup. The one star that connects the handle to the cup is the hardest to see – depending on where you live and how clear the sky is, you might not be able to see it at all. To find this constellation, look northward and up in the sky. In the summer it is more towards the center of the sky than near the horizon. You can see this year round in the northern hemisphere. (For the most part).
The only reason I am fond of this constellation is because it fits in with the story of my favorite constellation, Orion. Orion the Hunter is an easy-to-find winter constellation, who is followed by his faithful dog (star) Sirius. He and Scorpius are enemies, which is why they are never seen in the same sky together. In the summer months, Scorpius is easy to find. The first thing to look for is a 1-2-3, 1-2-3 pattern, as shown below. Some people say it looks like a seven, or a question mark. These are the brightest stars of the constellation, and the middle of each three is brighter than the rest.

The real constellation is actually huge – here’s a real picture from

Usually most of this is below the horizon – you have to stay up later to see the whole thing, especially early on in the summer.

(Scorpius is a scorpion by the way).

Corona Borealis

According to Wikipedia, the name is latin for “Northern Crown”, which is cool. This is usually found in about the center of the sky – great for star gazing – you’ve gotta lay on your back to see it. Here’s how I find it – my friends and I thought that maybe it was a parachute at first. There are three stars in a curve below it, and, matching the curve, above those are five or so stars. The five stars in a “U” shape make the crown, but finding the three/five makes it easier for me to find. At least, I think what I’m seeing is this constellation…

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