What Are Constellations?

A constellation is a group of stars that have been associated with a shape. This helps humans recognize stars and groups of stars easier. Stars are giant burning balls of gas that can be over 800,000°F. Stars are the centers of Solar Systems and can be very bright! Stars provide the planets with light, heat, and energy. The constellations you can see at night depend on the time of year. Earth orbits around the Sun once each year. Our view into space through the night sky changes as we orbit. So, the night sky looks slightly different each night because Earth is in a different spot in its orbit. The stars appear each night to move slightly west of where they were the night before. Your location on Earth also determines what stars and constellations you see!

Constellations have been helping humans navigate their way across oceans and even just identify specific stars in the night sky! Here is a picture of two constellations below: Orion and The Big Dipper!

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