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Top 100 Constellations

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1.  Tucana

Tucana was created by the Dutch navigators Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser and Frederick de Houtman, who charted the southern skies in 1595 - 1597.

The Toucan is a large brightly colored South American bird with a large bill. An interesting object found in Tucana is the Small Magellanic Cloud, one of the two companion galaxies of the large Milky Way Galaxy in which we live. The other is the Large Magellanic Cloud found in Dorado.
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2.  Volans

Volans was created by the Dutch navigators Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser and Frederick de Houtman, who charted the southern skies in 1595 - 1597. The official name of the constellation is Piscis Volans, The Flying Fish, but astronomers usually refer to the constellation just as Volans.
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3.  Protostar Formation

The nature of the first generation of stars in the Universe remains largely unknown. Observations imply the existence of massive primordial stars early in the history of the universe, and the standard theory for the growth of cosmic structure predicts that structures grow hierarchically through gravitational instability. We have developed an ab initio computer simulation of the formation of primordial stars that follows the relevant atomic and molecular processes in a primordial gas in an expanding universe. The results show that primeval density fluctuations left over from the Big Bang can drive the formation of a tiny protostar with a mass of just one percent that of the Sun. The protostar is a seed for the subsequent formation of a massive primordial star.
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4.  Cosmic Star Formation

Motivated by the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) results indicating an early epoch of reionization, we consider alternative cosmic star formation models that are capable of reionizing the early intergalactic medium. We develop models that include an early burst of massive stars (with several possible mass ranges) combined with standard star formation. We compute the stellar ionizing flux of photons, and we track the nucleosynthetic yields for several elements: D, 4He, C, N, O, Si, S, Fe, and Zn. We compute the subsequent chemical evolution as a function of redshift, both in the intergalactic medium and in the interstellar medium of forming galaxies.

5.  The Great Bear and The Seven Stars

Probably the most famous group of stars is the Big Dipper. It is a part of the constellation called Ursa Major. It resembles a bear in many civilizations. The handle of the Dipper is the tail of the bear curving away from the bowl. It has the seven bright stars in it namely, Alkaid, Alcor & Mizar , Alioth, Megrez, Phecda, Merak and Dhube. Two of these that form outer wall of the bowl are called the Pointers, directed towards the Polaris when joined in a line from bottom upward.
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6.  The Little Bear and Polaris

Five major constellations are always visible above the horizon from our latitudes: Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Cassiopeia, Cepheus and Draco. They all revolve once in 24 hours around the North Star and stars in these are known as Circumpolar stars. Ursa Minor or the Little Bear is well known for being the host of Polaris, positioned very close to the celestial north pole. Actually the Polaris revolves in radius of 1 degree about the North celestial pole.

Polaris is the brightest star in the Ursa Minor. It is part of 7 well known stars similar to Big Dipper. The handle in it curves towards the bowl unlike Big Dipper.
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Cassiopeia lies on the other side of the pole from Ursa Major, almost directly opposite the Big Dipper. One can sees the seven stars with naked eyes. Sometimes people visualize it as part of a Crown of the Egyptian queen Cassiopeia, other people see it as an inclined chair or throne. Long ago in ethiopia Cassiopeia has been the wife of Cepheus and the mother of Andromeda. Because she thought herself more beautiful than the daughters of Nereus, a god of the sea, she challanged the anger of the god Poseidon. To punish her, her daughter was chained to a rock of the coast as a sacrifice for a sea monster. Andromeda was saved from death by Perseus.

To learn humility Cassiopeia was banned to the sky hanging half of the time head downward.
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Cepheus is the name of two mythological kings. One was the son of Aleus, from Arcadia. He would become the king of Tegea (a community on the Peloponesian peninsula), would father twenty children, and would sail with Jason as an Argonaut. The other Cepheus was the son of Belus, king of Egypt. This Cepheus grew to become the King of Ethiopia or Joppa. He married Cassiopeia and they had a daughter Andromeda.
Cassiopeia was incredibly beautiful but immensely vain. She was also proud of her daughter's beauty. In fact she continually boasted that the two of them were more beautiful than any of the fifty sea nymphs who attended Poseidon's court.

These nymphs (the Nereids) complained to Poseidon, who felt he had to defend his own reputation. So he sent a flood to devastate Cepheus' kingdom. The oracles told Cepheus that in order to save his people he must sacrifice his daughter to a great sea monster: Andromeda was tied to a rock along the coastline, dressed only in her jewellery. The monster would be along in due time to take his prize.
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9.  Draco, the Dragon

Draco is a circumpolar constellation visible all night from northern latitudes. The constellation winds around the little dipper. Its' stars are not very bright, containing only three stars above magnitude 3.0. At one time Draco was quite a bit larger when the ancient Mesopotamians gave the dragon large wings which wound around Ursa Major. The Greek philosopher Thales lopped off the wings in the sixth century BC.
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10.  The Orion and it's bright stars

April is the one of the last months for viewing the Orion constellation. In fact, you have probably been looking at it for the last few months. So this article points out a few things you might not know about the major stars in Orion.

The closest of the major stars in Orion is Saiph. Don't know Saiph ? It's down by the left foot of the hunter. It is 720 light years away. Betelgeuse is about 450 light years distant. If Betelgeuse was located where the Sun is, Earth, Mars and possibly Jupiter would be inside the star. Betelgeuse will eventually explode as a nova or supernova. When will this occur? Some say it could happen tomorrow, others say it will be millions of years. Should you check with your insurance company? Probably not. Betelgeuse is about 400 light years away and a supernova would have to be within 100 light years to be a serious threat. Although we think of Betelgeuse as the left shoulder of Orion, the name means something closer to armpit.
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11.  Bootes and Arcturus

About 10 O'clock in the evening of February (spring) it first appears. On the 1st of March it appears 8 O'clock in the evening. Arcturus is almost overhead in early evening of July. Arcturus and Capella are almost equally bright. Arcturus is tinged with a bit of red, hinting its surface temperature colder than the sun and Capella. Arcturus is a red giant star. It has exhausted hydrogen as its primary fuel and now relying on secondary sources to escape extinction. Its center is much hotter than the sun, the extra heat resulted in its expansion of the size. After a few thousand years, it may explode, forming a white dwarf. It is 37 ly away. It is approaching earth at the rate of 2 miles per second, makes it appear ever bright or same bright and it lies in Constellation Bootes and its brightest star. Bootes means "watcher of the bear", a title derived from its proximity to Ursa Major.
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12.  Capella

It is the nearest to the north star among the 21 brightest. Draw a line through the Polaris at right angle to the pointers, you should find Capella at 45 degrees from the polaris on the opposite side of the Big Dipper's handle. It can also be found by a line drawn from bottom corner of the Big Dipper's Bowl on the handle side, and passing the line through the mid point of the pointers to a distance of 50 degrees or to the first bright star. Capella, Vega and Arcturus are brightest stars in the northern hemisphere of the sky. Capella is up above the horizon 21 hours. This makes it possible to observe it sometime every night. Capella first appears in the evening in August at about 10 O'clock during first part of the month and stays in the sky until June, always appearing before midnight. In October, it rises almost exactly in the northeast just as the sun is setting.
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13.  Castor & Pollux

In the constellation called Gemini or the twins, two closely placed (four and a half degrees apart) bright stars appear in the eastern gate of the horizon about the same time as Betelgeuse and Rigel. In November, the twin stars become very prominent in the early evening sky and Castor leads the way. They reach the meridian in 8 hours. Castor and Pollux were known to the ancients as exerting favorable influence during navigation. A figurehead representing the two often formed the ship's head. The Apostle Paul, while ship wrecked in the island of Melita, sailed from it in a ship of Alexandria whose sign was Castor and Pollux that brought a prosperous voyage to his friends in Rome.
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14.  Corona Borealis

Corona Borealis, or the Northern Crown, is the crown Ariadne wore at her wedding. It was made by the supreme goldsmith, Hephaestus, at his underwater smithy.

The story is connected to a more notable myth, of the Minotaur and of Theseus, who was destined to kill it. To do so, he needed Ariadne's help. This beautiful young maiden was the daughter of Minos, king of Crete. She was also the half-sister to the Minotaur, the half-man half-bull which lived at the centre of a labyrinth.

Every year Minos ordered seven young men and seven maidens from Athens to be served up to the Minotaur. The current hero in Athens was Theseus, son of Poseidon, and heir to the Athenian throne. Only a young man, Theseus had already proved himself by a variety of heroic deeds. Then time came for the yearly tribute to Crete. Theseus volunteered to be one of the seven young men.As he arrived in Crete, Theseus was met by Minos, who challenged the young man to prove he was indeed the son of Poseidon. Minos threw a gold ring into the sea, and told Theseus to fetch it.
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15.  Sagittarius

The shape of a tea pot, this is a remarkable shape that appears in the night sky close to Milky way. Constellation Sagittarius, also called The Milk Dipper lies in the Milky way.
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16.  Hercules Constellation

Hercules, the great Greek warrior, can be seen kneeling in the sky for northern latitudes throughout the Spring months. Hercules first becomes visible in the east in April, and works his way high across the night sky through October. From the southern hemisphere, he appears low in the north. Four relatively bright stars form what is commonly known as the Keystone. Hercules' arms and legs extend from this central square.

By far the most exciting object to see in Hercules is the magnificent globular cluster M13, which is visible in dark night skies even without binoculars or a telescope. This cluster of 300,000 stars appears as a faint fuzzy spot to the naked eye. It is located between the stars which form the western side of the Keystone.
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17.  Fomalhaut (Fish)

Still lower in the southern sky than Antares, the lonely star Fomalhaut is seen shining brightly. A line joining the Pointers to the pole and extended 120 degrees beyond from the pole, it will reach close to Fomalhaut. This star is at the end of a zigzag line of small twinkling stars that runs across the southern sky in the autumn. The small stars represent the stream of water that Aquarius is pouring from his urn. The stream runs to the southern part of the constellation Piscis Austrinus. And Fomalhaut means the mouth of the Fish. It rises in Autumn and sinks in December from the night sky. Fomalhaut and Capella rise about the same time. Fomalhaut path is in a short arc. Capella takes more than two and a half hours to rise at its meridian after Fomalhaut sinks. It is one of the four Royal stars of Astrology. Others are Regulus, Antares and Aldebaran. Fomalhaut is never quite one fourth way up towards the zenith from the horizon.
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18.  Andromeda and Pegasus

Daughter of Queen Cassiopeia and King Cepheus, the beautiful princess is chained to the rock, a curse due to her mother who boasted too much of her beauty. The two constellations Andromeda and Pegasus (the flying horse) are joined by one star at the corner of pegasus square. The two are about 100,000 ly away.
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19.  Spica

The 15th brightest star is Spica that rises not so long after Arcturus. It rises a bit south of exact eastern point in the sky. We can find Spica by extending the arc of the Dipper's handle through Arcturus and about 30 degrees beyond the Arcturus. It can be located by a straight line starting at the pointer nearest Polaris passing diagonally through the bowl of the Dipper about 65 degrees beyond the bottom of the Dipper. It is visible to the naked eye in the middle of March at 8 O'clock in the evening.

Spica does not make a long arc like Arcturus or Capella. It stays south of the celestial equator. It takes 11 hours for Spica to complete its journey setting in the south western horizon. It takes five and a half hours to reach the highest point in the sky about 45 degrees from the zenith in the southern sky in May. It stays in night sky between sunset and midnight during February through early October. In November, December and January, it shows up in the night sky during the time between midnight and dawn. Spica lies in Virgo constellation, close to the ecliptic, which is the apparent annual path of the sun through the heavens.
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20.  Vega in (Lyra Constellation)

Vega appears about 3 hours after Arcturus in the north eastern horizon. Its color is bluish white sand its surface temperature is less than Spica but much greater than Arcturus or Capella. To find Vega, draw a line from junction of the bowl of the Dipper to the Polaris. Then draw a line from the polaris at right angle extending it about 40 degrees to reach Vega on the same side of Dipper's handle. Vega is on the opposite side of Capella about the pole. Vega has the distinction of being accompanied by four stars in a parallelogram. Vega like Capella is always seen sometime in the night sky during the year. Vega is the main star in the constellation Lyra. Magical Lyre in Orpheus hands gave music that tamed the wild beasts and chained the rivers in their courses.
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