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Star Constellations

Duration: 1st January – 31st May
Number of books: 28
Hosted by:Crazy Challenge Connection

As part of our focus on the Space Program during the next several months, we thought it would be fun to talk about some of the “sights” of outer space.

1) Most constellation names are Latin in origin but their meanings often originated in the distant past of human civilization; however, just as many of the constellation names are more modern. By the 19th century, the night sky had become crowded, with overlapping and often contradictory constellation boundaries and names, as different schools of astronomy prepared their own versions of star maps. To clear up the confusion, names and boundaries were “officially” assigned to 88 constellations by the International Astronomical Union in 1930, providing complete coverage of the entire sky.
★ Read a book that is a classic from Greek or Roman times OR read a book whose pages contain an intact “88” in their total page count OR read a book in which an acronymed organization plays a crucial role (i.e. FBI, AMA).

2) The 12 constellations of the zodiac are no more important to astronomers than the other 76 constellations. The significance of the zodiac stems from the fact that the ecliptic — the narrow path on the sky that the Sun, Moon, and planets appear to follow — runs directly through these star groupings. Since ancient times, the Sun, Moon, and planets have been known as special astronomical objects — they “wander” through the background stars of the zodiac, which remain fixed with respect to each other. It was reasoned that these zodiacal constellations must be special to make up this path, and the relative positions of the “wandering stars” within them bore great importance.
★ Read a book with a “wandering” plot (tell us why) OR read a book with one of the zodiac signs’ names in the title OR read a book whose title begins with a letter in ECLIPTIC (disregard a/an/the).

3) Aquarius, the water bearer, is a large but faint constellation in the southern sky. Aquarius is located near other water-related constellations: Cetus (the whale), Pisces (the fish), Delphinus (the dolphin) and Eridanus (the river), in what is often referred to as the water or sea section of the sky.
★ Read a book with a large body of body of water on the cover (post the cover) OR read a book which occurs mainly on or near water (tell us where) OR read a book whose author’s first and last initial may be found in “CETUS,” “PISCES,” “DELPHINUS,” or “ERIDANUS;” tell us which word you used.

4) Aquila, the eagle, glides on outstretched wings through the glowing band of the Milky Way. Look for it high in the south in late summer. The brightest star in Aquila is Altair, which is the southern point of a pattern of three bright stars called the Summer Triangle.
★ Read a book with a bird on the cover (post the cover) OR read a book in which someone works with or keeps some kind of bird (tell us who and what type of bird) OR read a book that is part of a trilogy (tell us the book’s position and name of the trilogy). – Harry Potter: A History of Magic by J.K. Rowling & the British Library

5) Aries, the ram, is a mid-size constellation in the Northern Hemisphere. In Greek mythology, Aries represents the ram whose fleece was sought by Jason and the Argonauts. The Chinese see this constellation as twin inspectors, and it represents a porpoise in the Marshall Islands. 
★ Read a mid-size book (250 – 375pp.; tell us how many pages) OR read a book with a golden object on the cover (post the cover) OR read a book by an author whose first name is Jason (no variations). – When Demons Walk by Patricia Briggs (272 pp)

6) Auriga, the celestial charioteer, has neither chariot nor horse. Instead, he’s drawn as a man holding reins in his right hand, with a goat on his left shoulder (the star Capella) and two baby goats in his left arm. This constellation has an uncertain origin. It might represent Neptune rising from the sea in a chariot. Or it might honor a legendary king of Athens; according to this tale, he invented a chariot that was drawn by four horses.
★ Read a book that involves horses in a significant way (tell us how) OR read a book that involves a paradox (tell us what) OR read a book involving a king (tell us the king’s name).

7) Boötes, the herder, comes from a Sumerian word that means “Man Who Drove the Great Cart.” The “Great Cart” was the Big Dipper. Boötes trails the Big Dipper as it wheels around the North Star. The brightest stars of Boötes form a cone shape, with brilliant yellow-orange Arcturus at the base of the cone. Astronomers used light from Arcturus to help trip a switch that opened the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago.
★ Read a book that has a yellow, gold, or orange cover (post the cover) OR read a book in which a main character works with animals (tell us who) OR read a book that takes place in Chicago.

8) Capricornus, the Sea Goat, bounds low across the southern sky in late summer and fall. Capricornus gets its name from a Greek myth that says the god Pan was transformed into a half-goat, half-fish when he dove into the Nile River to escape the giant Typhon.
★ Read a book in which a main character is trying to escape someone or something (using spoilers if necessary, briefly tell us who is running from whom or what) OR read a book that takes place in the US “Deep South” (Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and Louisiana) OR read a book where the first letter of each title word (include a/an/the) may be found in CAPRICORNUS (2 word minimum).

9) Cancer, the crab, is visible in the Northern Hemisphere in the early spring. The constellation represents the giant crab that attacked Hercules during the second of the 12 labors he performed as penance for killing his family. It was sent by the jealous goddess Hera to thwart Hercules as he battled the water serpent Hydra, but he killed it with his club.
★ Read a book that is the second in a series (tell us the series) or the second book published by an author (make sure to use a link for the author) OR read a book with a crab or other crustacean creature on the cover (post the cover) OR read a book where a character’s jealousy causes harm to another character (briefly tell us who and what type of harm).

10) Canis Major, the great dog, loyally follows its mythical master Orion across the southern skies of winter. The brightest star in Canis Major is also the brightest in the entire night sky — brilliant Sirius. Because it is the brightest star of the Great Dog, Sirius is known as the Dog Star. Its first appearance in the dawn sky in August heralds the “dog days” of summer.
Read a book with the word GREAT or MAJOR (reasonable variations okay – i.e. greatest) in its title OR read a book that has a brightly colored cover (post the cover) OR read a book in which a dog plays a major role. – A Date With the Other Side by Erin McCarthy

11) Cassiopeia, the queen, floats overhead in fall and winter; she looks like a flattened “W” against the background of the Milky Way. The constellation’s legend is based on the Ethiopian queen Cassiopea, who was known for her unrivaled beauty and vanity. Cassiopeia has produced two supernovae in recent centuries. 
★ Read a book whose title or author’s last name begin with a “W” (disregard a/an/the) OR read a book with an exceptionally beautiful or vain character (tell us who) OR read a book in which a queen is at least a minor character.

12) The brightest stars of Cygnus, the swan, form a cross, so the swan is also known as the Northern Cross. The constellation’s brightest star is Deneb — an Arabic word that means “the tail.” Deneb represents the tail of the swan but the top of the cross. The swan’s outstretched wings form the horizontal bar of the cross, while the head of the swan, a double star called Albireo, is at the bottom of the cross. Deneb shines brightly in our night sky because it’s a white supergiant — a star that’s much larger, hotter, and brighter than the Sun. 
★ Read a book with a swan or a cross on the cover (post the cover) OR read a book with “SWAN” or “CROSS” in the title or author’s name (the words do not have to stand alone, but the letters should be together) OR read a book with an exceptionally bright character or a super hot character (tell us who).

13) Despite its size and designation as the eighth-largest constellation, Draco, the dragon constellation, is not especially prominent. The name is derived from the Latin term draconem, meaning “huge serpent,” and the constellation literally snakes its way through the northern sky. Draco is circumpolar, meaning that it never sets below the horizon and is always visible in the Northern Hemisphere, but cannot be seen in the Southern Hemisphere.
Read a book involving a dragon or dragons OR read a book that has an “8” in the original year published (list the original publication year) OR read a book that takes place in the Arctic Circle (tell us where). – Journeys to the Other Side of the World by David Attenborough (2018)

14) Gemini, the twins, is a constellation high in the winter sky and one of the few constellations that actually looks like its namesake. Gemini is fairly easy to spot, even for amateur star gazers. The twins, whose sister was Helen of Troy, fought together in the Trojan War. When the mortal Castor eventually died, Pollux was distraught. Pollux’s father, Zeus, decided to make Castor immortal as well and the two of them are together forever as the constellation Gemini.
★ Read a book marked “War” on its GoodReads page OR read a book involving twins OR read a book where a main character is grieving for a loved one (tell us who).

15) Leo, the lion is a highly recognizable constellation, as it also resembles its namesake. It is fairly easy to find because the “pointer stars” of the Big Dipper point to Leo. The constellation becomes visible in the Northern Hemisphere around the spring equinox and is easily identifiable through May. In Greek mythology, Leo is the Nemean Lion, which terrorized the citizens and had a hide that could not be punctured by iron, bronze or stone. Killing the lion was one of Hercules’ 12 labors. Having broken all of his weapons fighting the man-eating lion, Hercules finally strangled it to death and placed it in the heavens as one of his conquests.
★ Read a book in which the spring or vernal equinox is mentioned (copy the sentence and note the page or ereader location) OR read a book in which a main character receives a punishment of some sort (tell us who and what the punishment is) OR read a book in which the book’s location starts with a letter in BIG DIPPER (tell us the location).

16) The stars that make up the constellation Libra, the scales, were once considered part of Scorpius. Libra is in the Southern Hemisphere, located between Scorpius to the east and Virgo to the west. The association with scales and balance began with the ancient Babylonians, with the scales representing the balance between the seasons as well as day and night. The ancient Greeks viewed Libra as the claws of Scorpius reaching out. To the Romans, Libra represented the scales of justice being held by the goddess Virgo.
★ Read a legal thriller OR read a book that is between two other books (i.e. the second in a trilogy or any series book that isn’t first or last; tell us the book’s position and the series name) OR read a book with opposite words in its title. 

17) Lyra, the harp, looks like a small, lopsided square, with Vega (one of the brightest stars of the galaxy) just beside one of the corners of the square. Look for Vega high overhead in mid-summer. Orpheus, who was given a harp by the god Apollo, played sweet music that was said to make rivers change course to stay near its beauty. Orpheus married the lovely maiden Eurydice who was bitten by a snake and died the same day of the wedding. Crazed with grief, Orpheus wandered the hills of Greece until he was murdered. The Muses buried him, and Apollo placed his magical harp in the sky — as Lyra.
★ Read a book that involves a wedding or a murder OR read a book that has music as a major theme OR read a book that involves something extraordinarily beautiful (be as creative as you wish but you must state what is beautiful and why you consider it so).

18) Ophiuchus [Oaf-ih-YOU-kus], the snake bearer, is a fairly large and rambling constellation which graces our evening skies in the summer. Largely ignored by astrologers for centuries the constellation finally got some respect in 2011 when it was added as an astrological sign and realigned the Zodiac calendar. The snake is often associated with doctors, so Ophiuchus is often associated with healing images. The Romans associated the constellation with Asclepius, who learned the secret to immortality by watching one serpent treat another serpent with healing herbs. Zeus killed Asclepius with a lightning bolt because he didn’t want everyone to be immortal, but later honored his good deeds by giving him a spot in the heavens.
★ Read a book originally published in 2011 OR read a book involving a doctor or healer as a main character (tell us who and their profession) OR read a large book (400+ pages; tell us how many pages).

19) While the Orion constellation is named after the hunter in Greek mythology, it is anything but stealthy. Orion, which is located on the celestial equator, is one of the brightest and most recognizable constellations in the sky and can be seen throughout the world. One of the more common iterations of the myth is that Orion proclaimed himself to be the greatest hunter in the world, much to the dismay of Hera, the wife of Zeus. She had a scorpion kill him, and Zeus put Orion into the sky as consolation. 
★ Read a book that features a boastful or supremely confident character (tell us who) OR read a book that takes place along the equator (Equator; tell us where) OR read a book that has been highly recognized – a book that has won an award (tell us which award and when) or a book that has over 100,000 ratings (tell us how many).

20) Pegasus is a prominent constellation in the northern sky and the name comes from the winged white horse that was the sire of Poseidon in Greek mythology. Perseus killed the snake-headed Medusa to save the princess Andromeda from a nasty sea monster. A few drops of Medusa’s blood fell into the sea. When it mixed with the foam, it gave birth to Pegasus.
★ Read a book with any type of imaginary creature in it (tell us what) OR read a book in which a birth occurs OR read a book with a princess who is at least a minor character.

21) Perseus, the hero, arcs high overhead in fall and early winter. As mentioned above, Perseus beheaded the snake-headed Medusa to save the princess Andromeda from a nasty sea monster. Perseus is also the “radiant” point of the Perseid meteor shower, which is visible every August. 
★ Read a book originally published in August of any year (tell us when) OR read a book with a hero-like character who performs a great deed (tell us who and what the deed is) OR read a book with any type of shower scene (briefly tell us about it).

22) Pisces, the fishes, is the 14th largest constellation but its stars are relatively faint. Pisces is notable for containing the point (vernal equinox) at which the sun crosses the celestial equator into the Northern Hemisphere around March 20 each year. The two fish swimming at right angles to each other are apparently the Greek goddess Aphrodite and her son, Eros, who turned into fish and jumped into the Euphrates River to evade the fiery breath of the monster Typhon.
★ Read a book featuring a mother and a son (or sons) OR read a book that takes place in the spring (March, April, May; tell us when) OR read a book with a fish on the cover (post the cover) or in its title (compound words okay).

23) Sagittarius, the archer, represents the largest constellation in the Southern Hemisphere and the 15th largest constellation overall. The constellation possesses many bright stars and appears quite distinct to the naked eye since it is at the center (and therefore densest part) of the Milky Way Galaxy. 
★ Read a book that mentions archery (briefly tell us about it or copy the sentence and location) OR read a book with lots of stars or a galaxy on the cover (post the cover) OR read a book that is the 15th book of a series.

24) Scorpius, the scorpion, stands out as one of the brightest constellations in the sky with a distinctive shape. In the Northern Hemisphere, Scorpius lies close to the southern horizon; in the Southern Hemisphere, it lies high in the sky near the center of the Milky Way. In Hawaii, it is known as the demigod Maui’s Fishhook. In Chinese mythology, the constellation was part of the Azure Dragon. 
★ Read a book that takes place near a border (ideally a border between countries, states, or regions that is significant to the story) OR read a book whose author’s first and last initials may be found in SCORPIUS OR read a book with an azure (bright “sky” blue) colored cover (post the cover).

25) Taurus, the bull, stampedes through the northern winter sky as one of the most prominent and visible of the constellations. Taurus is most famous for its red giant star, Aldebaran, as well as a star cluster known as the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters. 
★ Read a book with a stubborn character (tell us who) OR read a book that takes place in winter (December, January, February; tell us when) OR read a book with the word “SEVEN” or “SISTERS” in its title (no variations).

26) Ursa Major, the great bear, is always above the horizon in the northern latitudes, but the best time to see it is in the spring when it’s high above the northeastern horizon. Ursa Major is best known as the home of the Big Dipper. Of all the star patterns in the sky, the Big Dipper is the most universally recognized. The dipper’s seven bright stars form a portion of the great bear. It’s hard to see the rest of the bear, especially from light-polluted cities.
★ Read a book featuring a bear or bears OR read a book with a universally-recognized symbol on its cover (i.e. a traffic light, a biohazard sign; post the cover) OR read a book whose title begins with “U” (disregard a/an/the).

27) Ursa Minor is the little brother of Ursa Major and its name is Latin for “Small Bear.” This constellation is located near Ursa Major in the Northern Hemisphere and is most recognizable by the Little Dipper, a group of stars that look like a miniature version of the ladle-shaped Big Dipper. Another famous feature of this constellation is Polaris, known as the North Star which is located at the end of the Little Dipper’s handle.
★ Read a book whose title contains a word synonymous with LITTLE or MINOR OR read a book with a little brother (older sib may be sister or brother) OR read a book a single, large star on the cover (post the cover).

28) Virgo, the virgin covers 1,294 square degrees; it is the largest constellation of the Zodiac and the second-largest constellation overall. Most of the constellation’s stars are dim, but Virgo’s bright blue-white star, Spica, is fairly easy to locate. Tied to fertility and agriculture, Virgo appears to stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere during the spring and summer months and to those in the Southern Hemisphere in autumn and winter.
★ Read an author’s second longest book (post a link to the author) OR read a book involving a pregnant character (does not have to deliver the baby in the book) OR read a book with a primarily blue and or white cover (post the cover).

Challenges

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