There are currently 48 officially recognised constellations with Greek origins. Most are thought to predate Ancient Greece, listed in ancient work on constellations by Ptolemy and Aratus.
In this article, we will list the Greek constellations and delve into a few favourites.
Complete list of Greek Constellations
5. Argo Navis
10. Canis Major
11. Canis Minor
17. Corona Australis
18. Corona Borealis
39. Piscis Austrinus
46. Ursa Major
47. Ursa Minor
Cassiopeia is a large constellation seen in the Northern Hemisphere.
It is the 25th biggest constellation and consumes around 598 square degrees.
Along with other constellations such as Andromeda and Cetus, Cassiopeia is part of the Perseus family of constellations.
Cassiopeia is best identified through its distinctive ‘W’ shape, which is made up of five stars.
Visible all year, the constellation is found in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly the northwest and latitudes between 90 and -20 degrees.
According to mythology, Cassiopeia was the beautiful and vain Queen of Ethiopia, wife of King Cepheus.
Legend says she boasted her beauty outweighed that of the Nereids, the sea nymphs favoured by Poseidon.
In response, Poseidon unleashed a sea monster named Cetus upon the kingdom.
To appease the god, Cassiopeia and Cepheus bound their daughter, Andromeda, to a rock to act as prey for Cetus.
She was rescued by the hero Perseus, who she later married.
The wedding was interrupted by a former suitor of Andromeda’s, which caused a fight.
Perseus used the head of Medusa to turn his opponents to stone, killing them all.
Cassiopeia and Cepheus also fell victim to Medusa’s head and were elevated to the sky in their deaths.
For her vanity, Cassiopeia was condemned to forever spin around the North Celestial Pole and spend half of each year upside down.
Also known as ‘the Hunter’, Orion is one of the most well-known constellations in the sky.
It can be seen around the world and is found on the celestial equator.
It is the 26th largest constellation, covering about 594 square degrees.
It contains the seventh brightest star, Rigel.
One of the best ways to find Orion is by looking for the infamous Belt, which is made up of three stars.
The constellation can be seen from both the Northern and Southern hemispheres; it can be seen best from latitudes between 85 and -75 degrees.
In mythology, Orion was a hunter famed for his abilities and hired by King Oenopion to kill the beasts that wreaked havoc on the island of Chios.
Orion claimed that he would kill every wild animal on earth, which angered the earth goddess, and mother to animals, Gaia.
In her anger, Gaia unleashed a scorpion upon Orion that he could not fight off.
Legend says that Gaia placed both the scorpion and Orion in the sky; Orion is placed in front of the scorpion, destined to be pursued forever as a reminder that animals must be respected.
Pegasus is the 7th largest constellation, thought to take up around 1121 square degrees.
Alongside other constellations, including Cassiopeia, Pegasus is a member of the Perseus family of constellations.
Pegasus consists of fifteen recognised stars, formed into a square with lines emerging from its corners.
It can be best seen at latitudes between 90 and -60 degrees.
From summer to fall, Pegasus is best seen in the Northern Hemisphere.
From winter to spring, it is best viewed from the Southern Hemisphere.
In mythology, Pegasus was a beautiful, winged horse borne from Medusa, springing from her neck as she was beheaded by Perseus.
He was best associated with the myth of the hero Bellerophon, who slayed the Chimera with the assistance of Pegasus and the goddess Athena.
Pegasus was enlisted to carry Bellerophon to Mount Olympus after the deaths of his children.
The trip was unsuccessful, as Zeus sent something to cause Pegasus to buck Bellerophon from his back, sending him plummeting back to earth.
As a reward, Zeus placed Pegasus in the sky as a constellation.
Hydra is well known as the largest of all the constellations.
It covers 1303 square degrees, making it not just the largest but also the longest constellation of them all.
It belongs to the Hercules family of constellations, alongside other well-known constellations such as Cygnus, Ara, and Lupus.
Hydra is made up of seven stars.
Its head lies nearby the Cancer constellation and its tail stretches back to Libra and Centaurus.
It is best seen from the Southern Hemisphere, particularly at latitudes between 54 and -83 degrees.
According to mythology, Hydra was a creature with the body of a serpent and nine heads, one of which was immortal.
In the myth of Heracles, one of his labors was killing of Hydra.
Hydra was notoriously difficult for Heracles to vanquish, but eventually he did so by cutting off the immortal head and burying it.
In this story, it is unknown who cast Hydra to the skies.
In another story, the constellation was created by Apollo.
The god sent a crow to fetch a cup of water, which it neglected to do as a result of a distraction.
The crow lied to Apollo and claimed it was prevented from the water by a water snake, the Hydra.
In his anger, Apollo sent Hydra and the crow into the stars.
The 48 Greek constellations each have fascinating backgrounds and deep connections to ancient mythologies.
Here, we have looked at four of the most interesting constellations.
You might also like:
- What Are Constellations Used For?
- A Guide To Greek Constellations
- A Guide To Navigation Constellations
- Constellations For Love (A List)
- Constellations For Friendship (A List)
- Animal Constellations (a Guide)
- Autumn Constellations
- Spring Constellations
- Winter Constellations
- Summer Constellations
- What Are Circumpolar Stars?
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