The Starson November 18, 2006 at 10:27 pm
There is nothing like looking up into the sky on a dark night to gaze at the stars, then magically more and more of them appear as your eyes adjust.
“The Big Dipper” that most all of us are familiar with and often look for up in the sky is actually not a constellation. It is an asterism, which is a small recognizable group of stars that are often part of a constellation. As Wally said, the Big Dipper is a part of the Ursa Major constellation, which is Latin for Great Bear. It is located near Ursa Minor, the small bear, whose tail ends with Polaris, the North Star, which is very near the north celestial pole. So Wally could have seen these constellations year round up near the north pole but not so easily down on the other side of the globe.
Interesting too, the Greeks could not see the sky over the south pole and did not assign those stars to constellations. Twelve of those constellations would not be named until the 16th century by Dutch navigators.
I guess “five months until dark” is now officially a recurring gag.
Leonid Meteor Shower
Speaking of looking up into the night sky, the Leonid Meteors are here and are suppose to peak November 19th, 2006, I believe in a couple hours from this post. Look them up and see if you will be able to watch them in your part of the world.