- any of various groups of stars to which definite names have been given, as Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Boötes, Cancer, Orion.
- the section of the heavens occupied by such a group.
- the grouping or relative position of the stars as supposed to influence events, especially at a person's birth.
- Obsolete. character as presumed to be determined by the stars.
Origin of constellation
Examples from the Web for constellation
HL Tauri is about 450 light-years away in the constellation of Taurus.
Today, all that remains of these Jewish holiday centers is a constellation of derelict buildings.The Best of the Beast, Aug 25-31: High Schools, Houdini and Hip-Hop Jihadists|The Daily Beast|August 30, 2014|DAILY BEAST
By the end of the book the stars converge into a constellation.
I faced a constellation of challenges that made transitioning out of the trade incredibly difficult.
There are some early clues that the convention speakers will communicate a constellation of diversity.
Another remarkable star is η Argus, which is surrounded by the great nebula in the constellation Argo Navis.The Astronomy of Milton's 'Paradise Lost'|Thomas Orchard
To the right of Corvus is the constellation Crater, easily recognised as forming a tolerably well-marked small group.Half-hours with the Telescope|Richard A. Proctor
We have to announce the appearance of a new star which has abruptly burst forth in the Parisian constellation.Parisian Points of View|Ludovic Halvy
I may mention a celebrated pair of these objects which lies in the constellation of Perseus.
The native Australians called this constellation "The Boomerang."A Field Book of the Stars|William Tyler Olcott
British Dictionary definitions for constellation
- any of the 88 groups of stars as seen from the earth and the solar system, many of which were named by the ancient Greeks after animals, objects, or mythological persons
- an area on the celestial sphere containing such a group
Word Origin for constellation
Word Origin and History for constellation
early 14c., from Old French constellacion "constellation, conjuncture (of planets)," from Late Latin constellationem (nominative constellatio) "set with stars," from constellatus, from Latin com- "with" (see com-) + past participle of stellare "to shine," from stella "star" (see star). Originally in astrology, of position of planets ("stars") in regard to one another on a given day, usually one's birth day, as a determination of one's character. "I folwed ay myn inclinacioun/By vertu of my constillacioun" (Chaucer, "Wife's Prologue," c.1386). Modern astronomical sense is from 1550s.
Science definitions for constellation
A Closer Look
Various cultures throughout history have chosen different groups of stars in the night sky to form different constellations. While it was once thought that the Greeks were responsible for determining many of the constellations known today, it is now believed that the mythological origins of the 48 ancient constellations predate the Greeks and originate instead from ancient Middle Eastern civilizations. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries another 40 constellations were invented by Europeans for navigational purposes. The boundaries of the 88 constellations currently recognized were defined in the 1920s by the International Astronomical Union. There is no scientific reason why there are exactly 88; the modern constellations are only a convenient way to break up the sky to locate the position of celestial objects or track satellites. Although the stars in any given constellation may look like they're neighbors, they can actually be many light-years apart, and if seen from another part of the galaxy they would form different groups and shapes altogether. Constellation names are usually given in Latin, such as Ursa Major (Great Bear) or Centaurus (Centaur), and individual stars in constellations are named in order of brightness, using the Greek alphabet, with the genitive case of the constellation following. Therefore, Alpha Centauri is the brightest star in the constellation Centaurus, Beta Centauri is the second brightest star, and so on. The stars within our galaxy are rushing through space in various directions, and as the millennia pass, the arrangements of the star groups as seen from Earth will change, inevitably altering the constellations as we know them.
Culture definitions for constellation
An easily recognized group of stars that appear to be located close together in the sky and that form a picture if lines connecting them are imagined. Constellations are usually named after an animal, a character from mythology, or a common object. (See Big Dipper, Ursa Major, and Ursa Minor.)