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Why are Some Stars Chosen as Constellations?

Are those stars or constellations? Get the details…

Wednesday, 5th May 2021

Constellations refer to a pattern of stars that stand out and thus are easily identified and remembered. Each of these has been assigned names that are given to the cluster of stars within the imaginary boundaries formed by them.

For instance, the Big Dipper that can be viewed in the night sky from the Northern Hemisphere holds the status of a celestial landmark. It is easily identifiable as the stars that form the Big Dipper, when joined with an imaginary line make the shape of a scoop with a handle.

Scientists have now come up with three factors that can explain the reason behind certain groups of stars forming such recognizable patterns.

  • how bright the stars are
  • how far apart they are
  • how the human eyes move

The Big Dipper, also known as the Plough, consists of seven bright stars from the constellation Ursa Major. It is one of the most popular star shapes and was used as a navigation tool by travelers in the olden days. It is one of many star groupings that these people picked out for their shapes.

Also Read: Researchers Say “Yellowballs” Seen in the Milky Way are Baby Stars.

There were others too which were in the shape of animals, people, or objects.

A high school student at Friends’ Central School in Wynnewood, Penn, Sophia David came up with the question, why people selected these star groupings over others.

“Ancient people from various cultures connected similar groupings of stars independently of each other,” said David.

This goes on to suggest that there was a similarity in the way different people perceived the stars. So she formed a team with scientists at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and presented their work on March 18 at an online meeting of the American Physical Society.

The researchers focused on the eye movements of people across the night sky and quickly landed on the theory of saccades or the way human eyes have a tendency of moving in distinct jumps

On the basis of these saccade lengths, the team then created a computer simulation that included two basic details of the night sky as seen from Earth

  • how far apart different stars appear from one another in the sky
  • how bright the different stars are


This particular method helped single out various constellations and groups of stars. One such constellation it chose was Dorado, the dolphinfish. These were then collated with 88 modern constellations, all of which were recognized by the International Astronomical Union

The News Talkie Bureau



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