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Date: 1993 - 1999

How do stars form into constellations?

Constellations are human inventions. Usually the stars that make up a constellation have no relation to each other; they're generally not part of the same cluster (an exception is the Big Dipper; many of its stars actually do belong to a single open cluster.) A very bright star that is very far away may look similar to a dimmer star that is closer; and if we see two (or more) similar-looking stars in the same part of the sky, it is not unreasonable to associate them. It is believed that the constellations were originally invented thousands of years ago as an aid for learning the stars so that they could be used for navigation by sailors.

RC Winther

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