When our ancestors looked up at the sky, they tried to make sense of the chaos by creating shapes and figures in the seemingly random assortment of stars. These groupings became known as the constellations, and we still use them today when we talk about astronomical positions from our vantage point on Earth. To understand the layout of the sky better, it’s helpful to know where the constellations are and how they relate to one another. Here’s how to get started learning about the constellations.
1. Download a stargazing app with constellation markers.
To make things easier for yourself, use an app that will show you the constellations so you don’t have to struggle to figure everything out on your own. Stargazing apps are a great way to get to know the sky, and there are many out there to choose from. Most include beautiful artwork overlaying the constellations, but try to go bare bones so you can see what the layout actually looks like.
2. Pick one to start with.
Instead of trying to learn all the constellations at once, pick just one. Dedicate yourself to learning what it looks like/what shape it forms. Learn the names of the main stars, then see if you can find them every night for a week. Once you’ve become familiar with one constellation, move to another, preferably close to the last one. In this way, work your way around the sky and soon you’ll find yourself back where you started.
3. Draw out a constellation map for your backyard.
While you’re learning the constellations, draw a nightly sky map of the stars in the constellation you can see to help yourself become more familiar with your unique view. The positions of the constellations won’t move drastically from night to night, so you can keep this up for a while and have a nice record of your progress.