Throughout the last year, we’ve embarked on a journey to find 39 northern hemisphere constellations in our Constellation Hunter series. Along the way we’ve found seasonal favorites such as Orion and Cygnus, the ever present circumpolar constellations like Ursa Major, and a few bonus constellations not on the official list like Scorpious. This project was inspired by the Astronomical League’s (AL) observing program with the same name, whose ultimate goal is to sketch each of the 39 constellations on the list to earn a pin and certificate. But the wonders of the night sky don’t end at the stars and constellations, and not just because the universe is never ending and expanding at an accelerating rate.
Constellation Hunters began as a video series when we were all asked to stay away from the museum and from one another to help us all stay safe and healthy. It was a way to stay connected when we couldn’t gather and marvel at the universe together in the planetarium or during star parties. But what started as an extension of the AL’s sketching project, turned into something deeper.
The first few constellation videos were a way to introduce viewers to what they can see right outside their doors. The intention was to get viewers to look up at the night sky and become familiar and comfortable with the world above them. Along the way the videos’ reach grew beyond introducing newcomers to the night sky, it became a regular check in with new friends, both the human kind who we see virtually or wave to across a field at a park when filming the videos, and seasonal friends in the sky like Leo the Lion. While the world around us is still changing in many ways, the stars can provide a comfort in their steadfastness, and a sense of grounding and connectedness knowing that we are all looking at the same sky.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the wonders of the night sky with us as we hunted constellations together. I know I did. Even after all my years of being a space nerd, I feel that I’ve learned just as much about the constellations as you. That’s a funny thing about learning, no matter how much you already know, there is always something new to learn right in front of you. I want to leave you with a way to look back on all of our progress and a way to remember our friends, the constellations, as they come back into view season after season.
I wish you all clear skies and happy stargazing!
Watch past Constellation Hunter Videos on the Bell Museum’s YouTube Channel. Included constellations:
Aquarius—the Water Bearer
Canis Minor—the Little Dog / Lesser Dog
Lyra—the Lyre or Harp
Pegasus—the Winged Horse
Serpens Caput—head of the Serpent
Serpens Cauda—tail of the Serpent
Ursa Major—the Big Bear/Greater Bear
Ursa Minor—the Little Bear/Lesser Bear
Bonus constellation videos (not on the official sketching list)
Canis Major—the Big Dog / Greater Dog
Ophiuchus—the Serpent Bearer
Teapot in Sagittarius
Check out the bi-monthly Star Map for Constellation Hunter highlights:
Camelopardalis—the Giraffe—January/February 2021
Cancer—the Crab—March/April 2021
Delphinus—the Dolphin—July/August 2020
Equuleus—the Little Horse—July/Aug 2020
Lacerta—the Lizard—September/October 2020
Monoceros—the Unicorn—January/February 2021
Sagitta—the Arrow—July/August 2020
Vulpecula—the Fox—July/August 2020
Some constellations inspired their own blog posts:
Aries—the Ram: Minnesota Skies: January 2021
Canes Venatici—the hunting dogs, Coma Berenices—Berenice’s Hair, Corona Borealis—the Northern Crown, Leo Minor—the Lesser Lion/Lion Cub, Lynx—the Lynx, and Sextans—the Sextant: Constellation Hunter: Hidden in the Spring Skies