The night sky, when not obstructed by city lights, is a beautiful thing. For thousands of years, people have studied the stars and their place in the sky. In fact, it’s believed that the cavemen at Lascaux in Southern France charted some of the stars they saw in the sky on the walls of their caves some 15,000 years B.C. In this episode of Flash Past, Dan and Lyle discuss the constellations, their use and meaning, and some of their name origins.
There are 88 officially recognized constellations, 48 of which are known as ancient or original. Many are named after animals, however Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille, a French astronomer, named 14 constellations after common items such as the Sculptor’s Chisels, Carpenter’s Square, Painter’s Easel, and the Telescope. In just 11 months, de Lacaille charted the position of nearly 10,000 southern stars from South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope.
If you’re interested in learning more about constellations, listen to this podcast and check out the Astronomy Apps for iPhone & Android.