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Northern Hemisphere Spring Constellations
Definitions by Buy a Star Name a Star

Antlia - La Caille at first named the constellation Machine Pneumatica, or "The Air Pump." It is now simply known as Antlia.

Bootes - Bearing one of the earliest known titles, the exact derivation of Bootes is unclear. The constellation was mentioned in the Odyssey, which has a tradition that may have begun prior to 1000 B.C. In English, it is sometimes translated as "Wagoner," or "Driver." The constellation is usually drawn as a man or boy holding a shepherd’s staff.

Cancer - In mythology, Hercules crushed the Crab, because it had bitten him during his fight with the Hydra. Hera, who hated Hercules, was pleased with the Crab, and gave it a place in the sky.

Canes Venatici - Situated between the shepherd Bootes and Ursa Major are the "Hunting Dogs." They are named individually; Asterion in the North, Chara in the South. They are often depicted leading Bootes in the chase of the Bear.

Centaurus - The Centaurs were generally regarded as a savage race of beings, unfit to partake of sophisticated human culture. The Centaurus constellation, however, likely represents Chiron, who was both skilled in the arts and sciences of human culture, and an educator of some of Greek mythology’s greatest heroes, including Achilles.

Coma Berenices - "Berenice’s Hair" had caused some confusion among astronomers but it is now generally accepted that the constellation represents the amber colored hair of the Egyptian queen, Berenice, who lived in the 3rd Century B.C.

Corvus - "The Raven" was considered sacred to the god Apollo. In one legend, however, the bird is cast into the sky with Crater and Hydra (The Cup and the Snake), because of its disobedience to Apollo. In another legend, Apollo turns the Raven’s color from silver to black.

Crater - Very early in Greek astronomy, "The Cup" was meant to represent the goblet of Apollo, though in Roman times the Cup was attributed to a handful of mythological characters.

Hydra - "The Water Snake" is most famous in mythology as the creature slain by Hercules. The Hydra of that tradition would grow two heads in the place of every one head that Hercules cut off. The constellation was not originally thought to represent this particular Hydra, however.

Leo - To the Greeks and Romans, "The Lion" represented another fallen foe of the hero Hercules, the Nemean Lion. Depictions of Hercules often include him wearing the skin of the Lion over his head and shoulders. According to myth, the Nemean Lion came to Earth from the Moon, and after his death was carried back into the stars.

Leo Minor - "The Lesser Lion" lies between Leo and Ursa Major, and for a long while was group of stars left unnamed. Its eventual naming was due to the similarities between it and the nearby constellations.

Lupus - The Greeks and Romans had originally thought of "The Wolf" as simply a generic sort of wild beast. Its present name is perhaps the result of a mistranslation of the Arabic word for "Leopard," which was their title for the same constellation.

Lynx - "The Lynx" is made up of many small and insignificant stars, difficult to see. It has also been known as "The Tiger," because the numerous stars bore some (imaginary) resemblance to spots on the tiger.

Pyxis - LaCaille formed "The Compass" from stars in the mast of the Argo Navis. It has also been called "The Mariner’s Compass."

Sextans - A sextant is a navigational tool used to measure the altitudes of constellations. An astronomer named Hevelius formed the Sextans constellation to commemorate the instrument he used in his previous work.

Virgo - "The Maiden" represents Persephone, the young goddess of Greek mythology who was abducted by the god Hades. An arrangement was made among the gods that Persephone should stay with Hades for six months of the year. Persephone’s mother, the goddess Demeter, mourns for the six months that her daughter is away. Demeter was the goddess of the Harvest, and according to myth, her mourning period causes the changing of the seasons.