Top 100 Constellations (pg 3)


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          41.  Alpha Crucis

Alpha Crucis or Acrux is a trinary star located 320 light years fromTerra. Only two components are visually distinguishable from Sol. Their respective luminosities are 25,000 and 16,000 times that of the Sun. α1 and α2 orbit over such a long period that motion is only barely seen. From their minimum separation of 430 astronomical units, the period is at least 1500 years, and may be much longer.

α1 is itself a spectroscopic binary star, with its components thought to be around 14 and 10 times the mass of the Sun and orbiting in only 76 days at a separation of about one astronomical unit. The masses of α2 and the brighter component of α1 suggest that the stars will someday explode as supernovae. The fainter component of α1 may survive to become a massive white dwarf.
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42. Beta Crucis

Astronomers from Swarthmore College and West Chester University of Pennsylvania announced at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle, the discovery of a previously unknown binary companion to the bright star, beta Crucis, in the Southern Cross. Beta Crucis, variously known as Mimosa, Becrux, or HD 111123, is the 19th brightest star in the sky. As a prominent member of the well-known constellation Crux, or the Southern Cross, it appears on five national flags: Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Samoa.

The companion star was discovered accidentally while the research team, led by Prof. David Cohen of Swarthmore College, was using the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory to study the x-rays emitted by beta Crucis itself. "We are interested in how the highly supersonic stellar winds of hot, luminous stars produce x-rays, and we were surprised to see two strong x-ray sources where we had expected to see only one in our Chandra observation," Prof. Cohen said.
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43.  Ursa Major

All the star patterns in the sky, the Big Dipper is the most universally recognized. The dipper's seven bright stars form a portion of the ursa great. It's hard to see the rest of the bear, especially from light-polluted cities.

After you locate the dipper, look at the two stars that mark the outer edge of its bowl. Now connect these two stars, then extend the line above the dipper's bowl. Polaris, the north star, lies along this line, about five times the distance between the two pointers. No matter where the Big Dipper is in our sky, those two stars always point to Polaris.
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44.  Lalande

The fourth nearest star system to the Sun after Alpha Centauri, Barnard's Star, andWolf 359. Lalande 21185 is located in the southeastern corner of Ursa Major, northwest of Alula Borealis. It is about three times too faint to be seen with the unaided eye.

Although Lalande 21185 is almost 200 times dimmer than the Sun, it is among the brightest red dwarfs in the solar neighborhood. Moving perpendicular to the galactic plane at a high velocity of 47 km/s, Lalande 21185 appears to belong to the Galaxy's thick disk population and to be considerably older than the Sun. It has both a high radial velocity, of 86 km/s toward the Sun, and a high tangential velocity (proper motion) of 57 km/s. The former is bringing the star 0.028 light-year closer to us each century and to a closest approach of about 4.6 light-years in 22,000 A.D.
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45.  Camelopardus

Camelopardus is a modern constellation. According to Ian Ridpath, it was invented by the Dutch theologian and astronomer Petrus Plancius. Both Ridpath and Julius D. W. Staal state that the German astronomer Jakob Bartsch included the constellation on a star map in 1614 (Ridpath) or 1624.

The constellation contains no stars brighter than fourth magnitude. There is no classical mythology associated with it.
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46.   Aquarius

The Water Carrier is the cup bearer to the gods living atop Mount Olympus. His name is Ganymede. He is usually protrayed as pouring water from his jar into the mouth of the Southern Fish, Piscis Austrinis. Ganymede was the son of King Tros, after whom the city of Troy was named. The story of Ganymede is rather horrifying if you bother to think about it; what it concerns is the abduction of a child from his parents.

Ganymede was abducted one day while he was keeping watch over a herd of his father's sheep. In one story it was Eos, the Goddess of the Dawn, who abducted the boy. She had a passion for young men. Then Zeus noted the beauty of the boy and stole him away from Eos.
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47.  Aries

The Aries star sign is recognized as one of the fire signs of the zodiac. By being born under the fire sign they often have their own characteristics. The fire can breeds a certain enthusiasm and energy into the Aries star sign and the person. Nevertheless, the magnitude of this enthusiasm can range greatly depending upon their mental state and wellbeing at the time. This can make this star sign one of the least predictable of all the star signs in the Zodiac. In the same way that this star sign can be fickle with people they also have little respect for routine and at their happiest when the situation is constantly changing even it is beyond their control. A routine for Aries can become boring and dull. Aries are always to bring a bit of excitement to their life even if it involves risk however large the risk may be. If you fail to keep the Aries star sign entertained they will become indifferent and hostile to even those closest to them.
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48.  Cetus

Cetus is the fourth-largest constellation, as befits such a monster, but none of its stars is particularly bright. The brightest of them is second-magnitude Beta Ceti, commonly called Deneb Kaitos from the Arabic meaning sea monster’s tail. Ptolemy in the Almagest described this star as lying on the end of the southern tail fin; the northern fin was marked by the star we now know as Iota Ceti. Alpha Ceti is called Menkar from the Arabic meaning ‘nostrils’, a misnomer since this star lies on the beast’s jaw .
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49.  Grus

Grus was created by the Dutch navigators Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser and Frederick de Houtman, who charted the southern skies in 1595 - 1597. There is no classical mythology associated with this constellation. The association with a Crane is a modern invention. Maybe though it is worth mentioning that in classical times, cranes were seen as being sacred to Hermes, the divine messenger of the gods.
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50.  Lacerta

Lacerta, the Lizard was created by the Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius, from the stars between Cygnus and Andromeda. According to the first renderings the Lizard looked a lot like a weasel with a long curly tail, but later drawings were modified to portray a lizard. This area of sky seems to attract attention, before the Lizard of Hevelius was placed here, Augustin Royer invented a different constellation called, “The Scepter and Hand of Justice,” in honor of King Louis XIV of France. Then about a century after Royer, the German astronomer Johann Ellert Bode, altered Royer’s asterism a bit and called it, “Gloria Frederica” in honor of his king Frederick the Great of Prussia. Bode’s and Royer’s creations did not stand the test of time and Hevelius’ Lacerta became accepted after its inclusion in John Flamsteed’s, Catalog of Stars published posthumously in 1726.
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51.  Pegasus

Pegasus was the winged horse best known for his association with the Greek hero Bellerophon. The manner of the horse’s birth was unusual, to say the least. Its mother was Medusa, the Gorgon, who in her youth was famed for her beauty, particularly her flowing hair. Many suitors approached her, but the one who took her virginity was Poseidon, who is both god of the sea and god of horses. Unfortunately, the seduction happened in the temple of Athene. Outraged by having her temple defiled, the goddess Athene changed Medusa into a snake-haired monster whose gaze could turn men to stone.

When Perseus decapitated Medusa, Pegasus and the warrior Chrysaor sprang from her body. The name Pegasus comes from the Greek word pegai, meaning ‘springs’ or ‘waters’. Chrysaor’s name means ‘golden sword’, in description of the blade he carried when he was born. Chrysaor played no further part in the story of Pegasus; he later became father of Geryon, the three-bodied monster whom Heracles slew.
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52.  Perseus

Perseus was a son of Zeus by Danae, the daughter of King Acrisius of Argos. The king locked poor Danae away in a dungeon where no man could see her, because an oracle had foretold that King Acrisius would die by the hand of his grandson. What better way to forestall the prophecy than by ensuring that his daughter had no children at all? But the king's precautions were defeated by the actions of the gods.

Zeus looked down from Olympus and saw Danae languishing in her dungeon and desired her. He approached her in the form of a shower of golden rain that fell through the bars of the dungeon into Danae's lap. She became pregnant and bore Zeus' son Perseus.
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53.   Phoenix


Phoenix was created by the Dutch navigators Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser and Frederick de Houtman, who charted the southern skies in 1595 - 1597. There is no classical mythology associated with this particular group of stars, although the concept of the phoenix is part of classical mythology.

The Phoenix represents the mythical bird that expires in fire only to be reborn again from the ashes of its previous existence.
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54.  Piscis Austrinus


There is little classical mythology associated with the Southern Fish. According to Ridpath, the fish is associated with the Syrian Fertility Goddess Atagartis, who fell into a lake near the Euphrates River and was saved by a large fish.

The Southern Fish is always shown with its mouth open drinking the water pouring from the jar of Aquarius. According to Staal, the fish is often seen as a sign of salvation in the legends of a great deluge. The fish drinks the waters of the flood to save the world.The Southern Fish is sometimes seen as the parent of the two fish of Pisces.
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55.  Pisces


Pisces folk have a sensitivity and a finely tuned nature and those born under the star sign of Pisces are empathetic and compassionate they hate to see another living being in pain, they feel very deeply about other people as they do not have a strong sense of separation of individuality, they will often have problems defining the boundaries between fact and fiction. Pisces people are intuitive types and can receive great inspiration they have great depth of vision, the Pisces star sign is the natural star sign for mediums and mystics. Pisces folk posses an inner vision that will often manifest its self through either the arts, the sciences or the caring professions. Pisces types can be selfless or self-sacrificing they have a capable for true and unconditional love. The Pisces personality has a number of sub personalities however which are likely to take over from time to time, they may become the victim, or the martyr or the savior and the rescuer and at times when a Pisces native gets locked into these types of behavior it can be very difficult for them to move on.
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56.   Sculptor

Sculptor is another one of the constellations invented by Abbe Nicholas Louis de Lacaille who mapped the stars of the southern hemisphere from the Cape of Good Hope in the years from 1751 to 1753.

De La Caille originally named the constellation "Apparatus Sculptoris". Now it is known just at Sculptor.The constellation is quite dim. It contains a few stars as bright as magnitude 4.5. The rest are magnitude 5 and dimmer.
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57.   Triangulum

The classic triangle, Triangulum, lies at the center of the picture, the Alpha star Mothallah to the right. Beta and Gamma are counterclockwise around the triangle from Mothallah, while fainter Delta is tucked just up and to the left of Gamma. (The star to the lower right of Gamma is 7 Trianguli.) Mirach and Almach of Andromeda (Beta and Gamma Andromedae) lie at the top, Mirach at right. Hamal in Aries is at bottom. The "Triangulum Spiral (M 33)," a nearby galaxy 2.7 million light years away that under ideal conditions can be seen with the naked eye, is up and to the right of Mothallah A tri of modest stars below Triangulum, made (clockwise from the top) of 6, 10, and 12 Trianguli, represents the defunct modern constellation "Triangulum Minus," the "Smaller Triangle."
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58.  Auriga


The Charioteer may be the legendary King Erichthonius of Athens. He was the son of Hephaestus, the God of Fire, whom the Romans called Vulcan. Like his father Erichthonius was lame.

Erichthonius was raised by Athene, the patron goddess of Athens, and from her acquired the skill of taming horses. It was he who first harnessed four horses to a chariot, in imitation of the Chariot of the Sun. For this he was honored by Zeus by being placed among the stars as the constellation of Auriga.
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59.  Caelum

Caelum is another one of the constellations invented by by Abbe Nicholas Louis de La Caillewho mapped the stars of the southern hemisphere from the Cape of Good Hope in the years from 1751 to 1753.

The Burin is an engraver's tool.

The stars of Caelum are quite faint.
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60.  Canis Major

A small and compact constellation of the southern hemisphere. Canis Major contains several bright stars making it conspicious in the night sky. The brightest of all stars, Sirius, belongs to this constellation.
It borders to Monoceros in the north, Lepus to the west and Columba to the southwest while the eastern border is covered by Puppis, therefore it streches roughly from RA = -11 degrees to RA = -33 degrees and Decl = 6h 15m to Decl = 7h 30m, respectively.Together with alpha CMi (Prokyon) and alpha Ori (Betelgeuze) alpha CMa forms the so called Winter Triangle.
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