Saturday, October 9, 2010

Star Gazing

Come out on the terrace at night and look above. I am sure its fascinated most of us to watch those mute  stars twinkling away through the night. To some of us its the curiousity to discover whats beyond our planet. This is an ode to all those star gazers.

If you observed the night sky on a regular basis for months you would easily identify the different stars. As a matter of convinience people of ancient age imagined these stars as patterns or shapes spread across the sky. So it became easier to spot a pattern in the sky as the stars moved across the sky over months. And stories were spun around these star patterns. Its interesting to note that the myth and lore and even the star patterns different in different cultures. The Chinese have 28 Xu (mansions) instead of our 12 Zodiac constellations.

The origin of the zodiacal constellations was the apparent motion of Sun in each of the constellations over the 12 months. Thus, 12 constellations. These patterns comprise of stars of different magnitude and situated at varying distances. All that suffices for us to form those patterns is how they appear to us when we stand on our terrace :). So dont be fooled by a bright star.

The easiest to spot, cause of the many bright stars in definite pattern, are
1. Scorpius, the Scorpion with a distinct arc and a long tail
2. Orion, the Hun with the 3 stars which form the knee of the hun a faint bow in the imaginary outstretched arms. Two prominent stars - Betegeuse and Rigel
3. Ursa major in the northern sky. A seven star in a kite pattern. In the Indian mythology its the famous Saptha Rishi Mandala.
4. The brightest star in the sky - Sirius. It is part of the constellation called Canis Major, the big Dog.

Happy star gazing. We'l dwell more into the concepts in subsequent posts.
Orion (Image Courtesy:

Scorpius(Image Courtesy:

Canis Major (Image Courtesy:

Ursa Major (Image Courtesy:


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