Star and Constellation List
Astro 120 - Fall 2005


In recitations you will be taught how to find or identify all of the things listed below. For an ISU-centric view of the sky we have divided things up into objects best seen during the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters at ISU along with objects visible throughout the year from the latitude of Ames.

Why should you learn these things you ask? Well, first the prosaic reason, four times through the semester you will be tested on your knowledge of this material. More importantly the constellations are an interesting connection to the mythology and traditions of many cultures. Also found in this list is just a hint of the variety of objects that are found in our Universe (galaxies, pulsating stars, double stars, star clusters, nebulae...) which you may want to learn more about in some of our other astronomy classes at ISU.

Classes are held in the planetarium, which is free of light and weather problems, but nothing can come close to matching the night sky.   Be sure to observe the night sky frequently --- either alone or with friends, as you like, but look and see with your own eyes!  Many of the things we will discuss are best observed in just that way.  Practice finding planets, stars, and constellations, and note how their positions change.  Watch the rapidly changing Moon.  Learn to know the sky as a familiar friend.  It can tell you  the time of day or night or year, even your location on Earth.  And perhaps above all, it is a thing of great wonder and beauty, giving rise to profound questions about the nature of our universe and about our place in it.

Fall Semester Constellations, Patterns & Objects
  1. Pegasus (the Great Square)
  2. Andromeda
  3. M31 (the Andromeda galaxy)
  4. Taurus
  5. M45 (Pleiades open star cluster)
  6. Auriga
  7. Perseus
  8. Mira (a pulsating variable star)
  9. Aquarius
  10. M15 (a globular star cluster in Pegasus)

Spring Semester Constellations, Patterns & Objects
  1. Orion
  2. Betelgeuse
  3. Rigel
  4. M42 (Orion Nebula)
  5. Gemini
  6. Leo
  7. Canis Major
  8. Sirius
  9. Bootes
  10. Arcturus

Summer Semester Constellations, Patterns & Objects
  1. Hercules
  2. M13 (Globular cluster in Hercules)
  3. Cygnus
  4. Deneb
  5. Lyra
  6. Vega
  7. Aquila
  8. Altair
  9. Scorpius
  10. Sagittarius (the teapot; center of Milky Way)
  11. Summer Triangle (Deneb-Vega-Altair)

Circumpolar Constellations, Patterns & Objects
  1. Ursa Major (Big Dipper, handle & pointers)
  2. Alcor & Mizar
  3. Ursa Minor
  4. Polaris
  5. North Celestial Pole
  6. Cassiopeia (eta Cassiopeiea)
  7. Draco
  8. Thuban
  9. Cepheus
  10. Delta Cephei
  11. Double Cluster (open star clusters)