Q:

What are fixed groups of stars like Ursa Major, Orion and Andromeda called?

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Quick Answer

Fixed groups of stars are constellations. Constellation names are often given based on an object that the stars resemble when grouped. The names are subjective, such as Orion the Hunter. Though the stars in constellations appear close together, many stars within a constellation are great distances away from each other.

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Full Answer

There are 88 official constellations in the night sky. Many constellations have names derived from Ancient Greek mythology. Other constellations have names from Roman mythology and signs of the Zodiac. Groupings of stars that do not have official recognition but are still recognized by common knowledge, such as the Big Dipper, are called asterisms.

The stars within a constellation have a ranking based on the brightness of the star, using the Greek alphabet. The alpha star is the brightest star.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What are the most famous constellations?

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    According to Sky-Watch, two of the most famous constellations are Ursa Major, the big bear, and Orion, the hunter. Ursa Major stands out because it contains the well-known Big Dipper. Orion is popular because it is near the equator and can be seen from any place on the planet.

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  • Q:

    How were the constellations created?

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    The constellations, which reflect mankind's earliest efforts to attach representative significance to what was seen in the night sky, were physically formed at the same time as the billions of other stars, but began to be named according to the patterns seen in their respective groupings around 2000 B.C. Scorpio the scorpion and Leo the lion are two of the earliest known names given to star groups. The Greeks began to name and document constellations in earnest beginning around 500 B.C.

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  • Q:

    Where did constellations come from?

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    Constellations came from the imaginations of people who looked up at the stars and saw patterns that they ascribed to their gods, goddesses, heroes and figures from their mythologies. Although scientists don't know who the very first people to set up constellations were, there are indications that at least a handful of constellations were in place as early as 4000 B.C.

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  • Q:

    What are Scorpius's neighboring constellations?

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    The constellations bordering Scorpius include Sagittarius (the Archer) to the east and Ophiucus (Serpent Bearer) to the north. Libra (the Scales) and Lupus (the Wolf) are off to the west, and Corona Australis (Southern Crown), Ara (the Altar) and Norma (the Level) all lie to the south.

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