The ancient Egyptians contributed the idea that patterns of stars made up constellations, through which the sun appears to “move” at a specific times during the year. It’s thought that all of these ideas came together when Alexander the Great conquered Egypt around 330 BC.
The most usefull answer is; the first use for Constellations was probably religious. People thought that the Gods lived in the heavens and that they created them. Many cultures believed that the positions of the stars were their God’s way of telling stories. So it seemed natural to recognize patterns in the sky, give them names, and tell stories about them.
When were the constellations first used?
But the constellations that we use today, the names and the patterns, date from only about 150 AD. This is when they were reorganised. The person mainly responsible was Ptolemy, who wrote a work which is now lost to us, but we know of it through its Arab translation and the name given to it, Almagest.
‘There has been much speculation as to the origin of the constellations. Until recently it has usually been assumed that they evolved from the fancies of primitive imaginations, but research now suggests that they were designed as a pictorial scientific coordinate system.
The first thing you need to know is that constellations are not real! The constellations are totally imaginary things that poets, farmers and astronomers have made up over the past 6,000 years (and probably even more!). The real purpose for the constellations is to help us tell which stars are which, nothing more.
One query we ran across in our research was “Why does the location of the constellations change over time?”.
Because of the precession, the location of those regions changes over long periods of time. If you look at a a picture of the ancient constellations in the northern and southern sky, before they become populated in Renaissance times by other grand figures, what you would notice, for the south, is that there is a big empty region in the sky map.
Why do we see constellations?
This is because even the earliest cavemen would look up at the sky and wonder about what makes it run. People saw that the motions of the stars were regular and predictable. The first use for Constellations was probably religious. People thought that the Gods lived in the heavens and that they created them.
The stars allowed farmers to plan ahead and form agriculture, and constellations made it easier to recognize and interpret the patterns in the sky. The constellations also helped with navigation. It is fairly easy to spot Polaris (The North Star) once you’ve found Ursa Minor (Little Dipper constellation).
Why are zodiac signs named after constellations?
These Western, or tropical, zodiac signs were named after constellations and matched with dates based on the apparent relationship between their placement in the sky and the sun.