What is a constellation
What are they used for
Constellations have been used in navigation, farming, mythology, storytelling and astronomy by many cultures for thousands of years. Constellations have helped us to form a map of the vast night sky. If you can spot one constellation, it is much easier to find another one that you know is nearby. After all, a cluster of stars is much easier to spot and identify than a single star! Navigators such as sailors and pilots generally have knowledge of which constellations are visible in the different hemispheres to determine what direction they are heading after the Sun sets. The ancient Greeks also used constellations to tell stories about mythical creatures, gods, and goddesses.
How Constellations Connect to the Zodiacs
The most commonly known constellations relate to the 12 zodiac signs in Western astrology. These form a pattern in the sky, making it easier to know where to find each constellation over the course of the year. When lit up at the same time, they would form the shape of a circle. 'Zodiac' loosely translates to 'circle of life' or 'circle of animals' in Greek.
The twelve constellations of the zodiac lie along the plane of the ecliptic. This is a path that the Sun follows across the sky, which forms a circle when viewed from here on Earth. The Sun appears to pass through each zodiac constellation throughout the course of the year, making it a useful way for ancient cultures to track what time of year it was.