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Star Attractions: Constellations
What do you see when you look up into the nighttime sky? For centuries humans have seen imaginary animals, people, or mythological beings in the patterns and shapes of star groupings. Ancient stargazers gave names to these groupings, the constellations we know today. These names give us a way to organize and locate the 6,000 stars and the galaxies, nebulae, and other celestial phenomena we can see with the naked eye.

The constellation Orion can be seen from both hemispheres. To the Greeks the star pattern formed a hunter anchored on the main star, Betelgeuse. To the Pawnee Indians of the Great Plains these stars represented deer. In the early 17th century, an amateur astronomer pointed a telescope skyward and saw a gray cloud of gas and dust—the nebula in Orion’s scabbard. Today, with the Hubble Space Telescope, we see previously unimagined details of whorls and swirls in this cloud of gas and dust—the Orion Nebula.
 

Orion

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