There are 88 constellations in the night sky. They were specified by the International Astronomical Union in 1930. But why have constellations at all? With computerized telescopes and celestial coordinates, we should be able to find anything anywhere in the sky.

Originally, constellations were defined as figures in the night sky. Each culture had their own, and they were often represented by stick-figures made up from their brightest stars. It was a way to document their mythology, and help farmers and sailors.

Now, constellations are standardized, and each one is a piece of the sky. The sky is divided up into 88 pieces (constellations), so there will never be new ones. Many stick-figures we use today are from the Greeks. Amateur astronomers still use constellations to find their way around the night sky.

The Insperity Observatory is having public nights on the first Friday of each month. Reservations are required: humbleisd.net/observatory.

Aaron Clevenson
Author: Aaron ClevensonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I am the observatory director at the Insperity Observatory in Humble ISD. I am also an adjunct astronomy professor at Lone Star College-Montgomery where I teach solar system astronomy and stars and galaxies astronomy. I am the author of the astronomy textbook, “Astronomy for Mere Mortals.” I am a past president of the North Houston Astronomy Club, and was the chair of Astronomy Day in Southeast Texas in 2015 and 2016. He is an observing program director with The Astronomical League, coordinates their Master Observer Progression Awards, and has authored six of their observing programs.

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