20 Oct 2011

Why constellations and astronomy are important

by Joan Marie Galat

Astronomy has intrigued me since I was a young girl staring out the window on long drives. At that time, I knew how to find the Big Dipper and Little Dipper but not much else. Curiosity led me to hop on my bike and pedal to the County of Strathcona Library. For reasons no longer remembered, I visited the adult shelves  and took out books far beyond my level of comprehension.

Comparing images in the books to objects in the heavens left me feeling there were too many dots on the page and too many stars in the sky. I imagined constellations all over the place but was never sure I was seeing the same group of stars as in the books. Finally as an adult, I learned to find my way around the night sky. At one point I remember thinking, “if only you could connect the dots in the sky, it would be easier to find the constellations.” And that’s how my Dot to Dot in the Sky series was born.

How to find Cygnus (The Swan)
from Cepheus (The King)
from Dot to Dot in the Sky,
Stories in the Stars
The first and fourth books in the Dot to Dot in the Sky series show how to jump from one star group to the next. Stories in the Stars focuses on 15 easy-to-find star groups. They are easy to locate because they either contain bright stars or are near constellations with bright stars. Stories of the Zodiac explores the 12 constellations that the Sun appears to travel through when viewed from Earth. These books also share the myths, legends, and folklore that ancient cultures told to explain the gods, goddesses, heroes, monsters, and other characters in the sky.

While it's fun to search for constellations, it's also important to note that these star groups are more than pictures in the sky. They represent stories from many different cultures and are also important because they serve as a celestial map. Astronomers refer to zodiac constellations when describing the location of the planets in our solar system. Constellations are also useful for navigation. Just think of the North Star!

You may wonder why it’s important to study astronomy. Does it really matter what’s up there? Yes it does. Here are just a few reasons. Studying the Sun helps scientists understand the life cycles of other stars. This knowledge helps scientist learn how to predict celestial events that could impact Earth. 

Our Sun is the closest star to Earth at only 93 million miles away. It is responsible for life on Earth and provides our energy, our  atmosphere, and all our weather.

Solar flares impact radio transmissions. Activity from the Sun can interfere with Earth-orbiting satellites, power grids, and global positioning system (GPS) measurements. The Sun, as well as the Moon, causes Earth’s tides.

While I've learned a lot since those nights staring out the window on long drives, I still feel the same awe I did as a child—wondering about everything in space. But now the night sky is more familiar. I look up and see characters in the night sky. I know how to use the constellations to locate planets. And thanks to the important work of astronomers and other scientists, I know the Sun is responsible for much more than sunny days and the constellations are even more than a wonderfully entertaining way to enjoy the outdoors.


jowdjbrown said...

They represent stories from many different cultures and are also important because they serve as a celestial map. Astronomers refer to zodiac constellations when describing the location of the planets in our solar system. sober living

Eddie Fisher said...

Nice keep it Up... Its the Olympiad... Venus...

Olivia Princess said...

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