Constellations played a significant role in navigation for explorers of the earth’s surface and oceans; these navigators created extensive star charts to help them find their way around the planet. Often though, a single star chart wasn’t enough for successful navigation.
A frequent question we ran across in our research was “How do constellations help you navigate?”.
Circumpolar constellations are useful reference points for navigation because they never rise or set. The constellations that don’t move can also help in locating the seasonal constellations such as the constellations that make up the zodiac. If you are looking for constellations that are visible during a specific season, sky maps can help you.
Other, however, stay constant in the sky, and they are known as circumpolar constellations. Since circumpolar constellations can be seen all year long in their hemisphere, we use them to navigate by the stars. We can use them as a reference point, because we can always find them by looking up.
Why do we use constellations as a calendar?
Before there were proper calendars people had no way of determining when to sow, or harvest except by the stars. Constellations made the patterns of the stars easy to remember.
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).
One article claimed that 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). One can figure out his/her latitude (North/South) just by looking at how high Polaris appears in the night sky. This allowed for ships to travel across the globe.
Another answer was a constellation is a group of stars that looks like a particular shape in the sky and has been given a name. These stars are far away from Earth. They are not connected to each other at all.
How are stars used to navigate?
Known stars, such as those in well-known constellations, can also be used to navigate. For centuries, sailors used stars to determine their location when out at sea.
You might be asking “What do you need to navigate by the stars?”
Regardless of these milestones in the history of celestial navigation, one merely needs a clear night sky, some basic knowledge of the stars and constellations to navigate using stars, and the willingness to trust that a small blink of light trillions of miles away will lead you toward home and safety.
Do astronomers still use constellation names?
Astronomers today still use constellations to name stars and meteor showers. A constellation is a group of stars that looks like a particular shape in the sky and has been given a name. These stars are far away from Earth. They are not connected to each other at all. Some stars in a constellation might be close while others are very far away.