"Why did not somebody teach me the constellations,
and make me at home in the starry heavens,
which are always overhead,
and which I don't know to this day?"
- Thomas Carlyle
"What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing,
and what do we think we might see?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers, and me."
- The Muppet Movie, Kermit the Frog
"Man hath weaved out a net,
and this net throwne upon the Heavens,
and now they are his own."
- John Donne (1572-1631)
Visit the Sandburg Sky Poetry Web
page, including CSMS student-authored sky poems.
Sandburg Center for Sky Awareness
A Fairfax County Public Schools Planetarium
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Constellation of the Month (CoM)
Printer-friendly version of November
Starfinder - November
Southern Sky (71K,
619 x 864 pixels)
Northern Sky (39K,
628 x 870 pixels)
Southern Sky (333K, 1250
x 1736 pixels)
Northern Sky (178K, 1250
x 1736 pixels)
Andromeda, the Chained Princess
is a crooked "V" shape (FCPS Starfinder, No. 17, Southern Sky) which converges toward the
star Alpheratz (Letter "R"), a star shared by Pegasus, the Winged Horse
(refer to October CoM). The
upper line has four dim stars; the lower line has four corresponding
Note: Alpheratz, meaning "horse's navel," is the head (and brightest star)
of Andromeda. From the name given to this star by the Arabs, it was meant
to be a part of the constellation Pegasus, but now falls within the
boundary of Andromeda.
The Andromeda Galaxy
(Messier Object M31) is located near the constellation Andromeda. The
galaxy appears as a hazy spot best seen out of the corner of the eye. It
is a spiral galaxy similar to our galaxy, the Milky Way. For more
information, read the transcript of M31, the 11 October 2001 StarDate, the
daily astronomy-related radio program produced by the McDonald
Observatory, University of Texas.
Associated Mythology - Andromeda was a princess, daughter of Queen
Cassiopeia and King Cepheus. Cassiopeia enraged the sea nymphs by boasting
of her beauty. Neptune punished Cassiopeia for her vanity by threatening
to destroy her city unless she surrendered her daughter Andromeda to the
sea monster Cetus (who was ravaging the coast). But Perseus killed the sea
monster and saved Andromeda.
Cassiopeia, the Queen
Cassiopeia (KASS-ee-oh-PEE-uh) has an easy-to-recognize "W"
or "M" shape (FCPS Starfinder, No. 3, Northern Sky). The lazy side of the "W" is
where her head is located. A line arcing from the "Pointer Stars" (Merak
and Dubhe, Letters "C" and "B" respectively, Ursa Major, No. 1) through
Polaris (Letter "D," Ursa Minor, No. 2) will lead to Cassiopeia.
Associated Mythology - Cassiopeia was a vain woman. She was
punished for boasting of her great beauty, claiming that she was more
beautiful than the sea nymphs. As punishment, she is seen in the sky
standing on her head much of the year.
Pisces, the Fish
Pisces (PIE-seez) is the 12th constellation of the Zodiac for birthdates between 19 February and 20
March. It is a very dim, difficult to recognize constellation and is not
shown on the FCPS Starfinder. A dim oval of stars beneath the Great Square
of Pegasus forms the southern fish, known as the "Circlet." The second,
and dimmer, group of stars is located just beneath the center of Andromeda
and forms the northern fish. The two fish are connected by a line of very
dim stars known as the rope or ribbon.
We are now in the "Age of Pisces, the Fish"; the "Age of Aquarius"
(remember the old song by the Fifth Dimension?) will dawn in about
Associated Mythology - One Greek story (based upon Syrian legend)
says the fishes are Venus and her son Cupid who escaped Typhon, the
fire-breathing giant, by jumping into the Euphrates River and turning
themselves into fish.
A Roman story says that the constellation is named in honor of the two
fish that carried Venus and her son to safety. They were bound together by
the rope so that they wouldn't get separated from each other.
Credits: CoM entries excerpted from Your Guide to
the Constellations, by Lowell L. Koontz, former Planetarium Teacher at
Edison High School, Fairfax County Public Schools.
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