Constellations of Spring Help
Other Circumpolar Constellations
Constellations Of Spring
Besides the circumpolar constellations, there are certain star groups that are characteristic of the evening sky in spring in the northern hemisphere. The season of spring is 3 months long, and even if you live in the so-called temperate zone, your latitude might vary. Thus, to get ourselves at a happy medium, let’s envision the sky in the middle of April, a couple of hours after sunset at the latitude of Lake Tahoe, Indianapolis, or Washington, D.C. (approximately 39° N).
Libra is near the east-southeastern horizon. It has the general shape of a trapezoid (Fig. 2-7) if you look up at it facing toward the east-southeast. Libra is supposed to represent the scales of justice. This constellation is faint and once was considered to be part of Scorpio, the scorpion.
Virgo , the virgin, is fairly high in the southeastern sky. It has an irregular shape, something like a letter Y with a hooked tail (Fig. 2-8) if you look up at it facing toward the southeast. Virgo contains the bright star Spica .
Leo , the lion, is just south of the zenith. This constellation is dominated by the bright star Regulus . If you stand facing south and crane your neck until you’re looking almost straight up, you might recognize this constellation by its Sphinx-like shape (Fig. 2-9).
Cancer And Canis Minor
Cancer , the crab, stands high in the southwestern sky. If you stand facing southwest and look up at an elevation about 70 degrees, you’ll see a group of stars that resembles an upside-down Y (Fig. 2-10). In ancient mythology, Cancer was the cosmic gate through which souls descended to Earth to occupy human bodies. Next to Cancer is Canis Minor , the little dog, which contains the prominent star Procyon .
Gemini is moderately high in the western sky. This constellation has the general shape of a tall, thin, squared-off letter U if you stand facing west and look up at it (Fig. 2-11). At the top of the U are the prominent stars Castor and Pollux , named after the twin sons of Zeus, the most powerful of the ancient Greek gods. If you use your imagination, you might see Castor facing toward the left, with Pollux right behind him. The bright stars must be their left eyes.
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