The Night Sky


September | October | November


December | January | February


March | April | May


June | July | August

What are constellations and what are asterisms?

Constellations, which are patches of the sky, just like countries are on Earth, take their name from the associated asterism’s image. Asterisms are dot to dot doodles – they’re the patterns on the celestial firmament.

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The stars of Gould’s Belt are prominent in April’s sky, and the galaxy hunting season is open, with Leo and Virgo coming into sight. April is the month of Aphrodites, the Greek goddess of beauty and love but for us here in the Southern Hemisphere is the second month of autumn.

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Three Royal Stars are in the sky of November, and here in Wellington New Zealand we are looking at a Māori asterism called Te Waka O Tama Rereti (or Tamarereti), which is the great canoe that placed the stars in the sky. We are also talking about the circumpolar stars, the Magellanic Clouds and latest research results revealing they collided in the not so distance past, which resulted in a Mini-Magellanic Cloud hurrying behind one of them. Fomalhaut is my favourite star this month, the loneliest star in the sky as it’s called and the Pleiades are back in the east just in time for Halloween.

Te Waka o Tama Rereti
The evening sky in November from New Zealand. Credit John Drummond, Gisborne

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