Earth Science

Beyond the Solar System

Star Constellations

Study Tip
Be careful not to confuse astronomy with astrology. Astronomy is the study of our universe, but astrology only deals with fortune telling.

Stars

  • Stars are giant collections of glowing gases at high temperatures.
  • Stars can differ in size, temperature, and age. All stars are made up of the same elements and behave according to the same principles.
Study Tip
Be careful not to confuse astronomy with astrology. Astronomy is the study of our universe, but astrology only deals with fortune telling.

Constellations

  • Constellations are patterns of stars in the sky.
  • Although stars move across the sky, they stay in the same patterns.  
  • The rotation of the Earth causes these patterns to shift in the sky.
  • People in a specific location can see different constellations in the winter than in the summer.
  • The stars move in clusters called asterisms.
  • Stars in constellations seem close together from our perspective, but they can be light-years apart.
The Big Dipper
The Big Dipper (also known as Ursa Major)
is the constellation outlined in this picture.
Concept Check
  • What are constellations? Can you see a constellation throughout the whole year?
  • Why do constellations appear to change?