Constellation has been a major part of life in the ancient times ever since humans started to observe the night sky. Pioneers of sea navigation always depend their perilous voyage by looking up to the sky to guide them as they fare along treacherous waters. Star gazers, priest and wise men of the ancient world use these groups of stars as their basis for their daily actions. Mythology tried to explain their existence and significance in terms of stories, legends and symbols.
In contemporary astronomy, constellation is defined as an area celestial spheres, characterized by accurate boundaries. Constellation could also be referred to as prominent visible heavenly bodies that seem to create a certain pattern in a specific area. In modern era, International Astronomical Union (IAU) parts the sky into eighty-eight (88) official constellations with exact borders; to define every direction or place in sky would be defined by a constellation.
The Eighty-eight Modern constellation
International Astronomical Union set the eighty-eight (88) official constellations. Majority of constellations are based upon the ancient Greek tradition passed down through the Middle Ages. It includes the famous ‘Zodiac Signs’ or the twelve (12) constellations which the sun passes and have had special cultural significance. The rest consist of constellations which were defined during the early modern era by astronomers who gazed and studied the skies in the southern hemisphere, which the Greeks did not see. The following are the eighty-eight Modern constellations (in alphabetical order):
Throughout history, there are some discovered constellations that had been removed from the list. Some were tagged or considered as obsolete or former constellations. These groups of celestial bodies are no longer recognized by International Astronomical Union for several reasons. A classic example would be Ptolemy’s Argo Navis. Due to its large size, it was divided to four (4) constellations by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille namely: Vela, Pyxis, Puppis and Carina.
Constellations significance is defined and derived from cultural and mythological aspects. One of the constellation that has historical prestige is Aries.
The Constellation Aries
Aries’ implication is related to one of the most beautiful legend in Greek mythology. It is related to the Golden Fleece that Jason and the Argonauts desperately searched. According to Ptolemy’s description, Aries has been described as a ‘Ram’ lying down with its head turned to the right. Aries has also been dubbed, though not that clear, as the ‘Agrarian Worker’. Some sources asserted that early astronomers attributed the season of spring to Aries based on its position, thus considering Aries as the ‘First House’ that occupied the sun in its annual way. Discovery of Aries could have had happened during the Ancient times but as per documentation, Aries had been listed by Ptolemy 150 A.D.