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

Auriga - "The Charioteer" was referred to as Erichthonius by some Latin authors. Erichthonius was the son of the Roman gods Vulcan and Minerva, and the fourth king of Athens. He inherited his father's lameness, as well as his father's skill in crafts. He was credited with the invention of the four horse chariot.

Caelum - Latin for graving tool or chisel, Caelum was also named by La Caille, for the tool used by sculptors.

Canis Major - "The Greater Dog" was known in early days simply as Canis, and is also referred to as Canis Australior, or "Southern Dog." Canis Major is commonly thought to represent the dog of Orion, the famous hunter of classical mythology.

Canis Minor - "The Lesser Dog" has also been called Canis Septentrionalis ("Northern Dog"), Canis Parvus ("Little Dog," for the faintness of its stars), and Canis Primus ("First Dog," because it rises first).

Carina - Argo Navis, a constellation that covered a great expanse of the sky, was subdivided into three parts, and the Carina constellation constitutes the Keel of the ship of the Argonauts.

Columba - Also known as Columba Noae, or "Noah's Dove," the constellation lies close to the Argo Navis. Since the Argo Navis was later thought to represent Noah's Arc, the dove consequently became the dove of the Noah story in the Old Testament.

Eridanus - The longest constellation in the sky, and therefore named simply "The River" in both Greek and Latin, Eridanus was eventually named by the Latins. The mythical river Eridanus was believed to exist in the extreme Northwest of Europe, where it flowed into the Northern Ocean.

Fornax - "The Furnace," also sometimes known as Fornax Chemica, the "Chemical Furnace." La Caille formed the constellation by using stars within the southern reaches of the River constellation.

Gemini - "The Twins" are meant to represent Castor and Pollux, the twin sons of Leda. They are also the brothers of Helen and Clytemnestra. Pollux was believed to be the son of Zeus, who came to Leda in the form of a swan, while Castor was the mortal son of Tyndareos. They were, however, born on the same night. They are also known as the Dioscuri.

Horologium - Also called Horologium Pendulum, or "Pendulum Clock."

Lepus - "The Hare" is located in close proximity to Orion and Canis Major, its hunters. Some believed its placement was a punishment of the hare; others believe it was a gift to Orion.

Monoceros - "The Unicorn" has also been called Cervus, "The Stag." Monoceros has no specific mythological associations. Orion -The great hunter and lover of classical mythology, Orion was given a favorable position in the sky, escaping to the West as his killer, The Scorpion, arises in the East. Orion was the lover of Diana, the goddess of the hunt, and he fathered fifty sons to as many nymphs.

Pictor - Also called Equuleus Pictoris, "The Painter's Easel," named by La Caille.

Puppis - Another of the three divisions of the Argo Navis, the Puppis constellation constitutes the Stern of the Argo.

Reticulum - Originally named Rhombus, La Caille later named it Reticulum Rhomboidalis, "the Rhomboidal Net." La Caille supposedly named it as a tribute to his own tool in stellar observations, a reticle.

Vela - The third of the three divisions of the Argo Navis, the Vela constellation constitutes the Sail of the Argo.