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Word of the Day
Saturday, April 02, 2016

Definitions for asterism

  1. Astronomy. a. a group of stars. b. a constellation.
  2. Mineralogy. a property of some crystallized minerals of showing a starlike luminous figure in transmitted light or, in a cabochon-cut stone, by reflected light.
  3. three asterisks printed to draw attention to a passage it precedes.

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Citations for asterism
Everything focused toward the north; every curve and asterism of the glittering sky became part of a vast design whose function was to hurry first the eye and then the whole observer onward to some secret and terrible goal of convergence beyond the frozen waste that stretched endlessly ahead. H. P. Lovecraft, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, 1943
The Big Dipper is an asterism--a distinctive group of stars in its own right, but not one of the 88 recognized constellations. It's part of the constellation Ursa Major (Great Bear). Usually asterisms are easier to spot than constellations, and since they are so often a part of a larger constellation they can be an aid to discovering the site of the constellation. Debra Carmichael, "Star Light, Star Bright," Cruising World, June 1982
Origin of asterism
1590-1600
Asterism derives from the Greek term asterismós meaning "a marking with stars." It entered English in the late 1500s.