The Constellation Sagittarius:
Sagittarius is an easy constellation to find if you know where Scorpio is. Once you have found Scorpio, look just to the left of it. The brighter stars which you see are the constellation Sagittarius. There are different myths that surround the constellation Sagittarius. The most popular is the Greek version. This says that Sagittarius was a well educated and kind centaur (half man, half horse). He was mistakenly killed by a poisoned arrow by his good friend Hercules. To honor Sagittarius and to ease Hercules’ sadness, Hercules’ father Zeus gave Sagittarius a final resting place in the stars. In the constellation, Sagittarius is poised to shoot an arrow from his bow.
Up until now we have mainly been looking for constellations. You are now ready to move on to the next step. Once you know the constellations you can then look for interesting things to observe within that constellation.
Betelgeuse, pronounced “BeatleJuice,” is the funny name of a very bright, very large star in the constellation Orion. It is so big that if it took the place of our Sun, the Earth would be inside of it. Think about that. That is huge!
To find Betelgeuse, first locate Orion. Betelgeuse is the bright star in its upper left corner. As you look at it think about what you are seeing. Notice it has a reddish orange color. This is caused by its low temperature. We will learn more about star colors and what they mean in the next astronomy packet. I encourage you to not just look at it and then look away, but enjoy looking at it. Take your time. Try to remember what the color looks like. One very good exercise you might try is to look back and forth between Betelgeuse and another star. Try to see the difference in color between the two stars.
In this packet we are also looking for Antares. Antares is the brightest star in Scorpio. In fact, it is the 15th brightest star in the sky. The name Antares comes from anti-ares. Ares means Mars in Greek. This star is the same color and the same brightness as the planet Mars. This is why the Greeks named it Anti-Mars, or Anti-Ares. The Greeks were calling it Mars’ rival. To find Antares, look in the constellation Scorpio. It is near the top of the constellation, and is much brighter than all the other stars in this constellation.
Assignment # 4
Find the constellation Sagittarius.
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If you found the Constellation Sagittarius, and the stars Betelgeuse and Antares in the night time sky, then give yourself credit.