The Constellations and Their Stars

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Origins of Western Constellations
The human propensity for pattern recognition and storytelling has led every culture to invent constellations. Trace the birth of the star groups known in the West, many of which originated in ancient Mesopotamia. At least one constellation is almost certainly more than 14,000 years old and may be humanity's oldest…
Chinese and Other Non-Western Constellations
Study the constellation patterns of ancient China, which influenced those of India and Arabia. Professor Schaefer dates the origin of the Chinese star groups called lunar lodges, and he samples southern constellations conceived by cultures in South America, and Australia.
Stars in Their Courses—Orbital Mechanics
Newton was the first to realize that objects could, in theory, be sent into orbit around Earth. Explore how this works in practice, using the ideas of energy and angular momentum to study how satellites, moons, planets, and stars move through space.
Planets Circling Two Stars
See how data from the Kepler spacecraft confirms a scenario straight out of the movie Star Wars: a planet with two suns. Investigate the tricky orbital mechanics of these systems. A double star also complicates the heating and cooling cycle on a planet. However, the view is spectacular!
The Star Factory inside the Eagle Nebula
Episode 4 of Experiencing Hubble
Explore the most iconic Hubble photo of all: the glowing pillars of gas and dust at the core of the Eagle Nebula. Resembling a fantasy landscape, this view shows young stars emerging from their cocoons of gas and dust in an interstellar molecular cloud.
Living with a Dwarf Star
The most common stars are class M dwarf stars, which are smaller and less luminous than the Sun (class G). Earth-sized planets are much easier to detect around M-dwarf stars, especially if the planets are within the relatively close-in habitable zone. Explore examples and the prospect for life on such…
Living with a Giant Star
In billions of years, the Sun will expand into a red giant, possibly engulfing Earth. Learn how planet-finding techniques give astronomers insight into the processes inside giant stars. Then study the planets around these behemoths for clues about Earth's ultimate fate.
The Star of Bethlehem
For centuries, astronomers have struggled to find an explanation for the Star of Bethlehem, recounted in the Gospel of Matthew. Professor Schaefer focuses on a recent theory that has taken scientists and biblical scholars by surprise, due to its success at solving problems that plagued all previous proposals.
The Sagittarius Star Cloud
Episode 3 of Experiencing Hubble
Hubble's view of a tiny region of the Sagittarius Star Cloud has an astonishing 12,000 stars. Study this dazzling image and learn how its unprecedented resolution is helping to chart the stellar history and evolution of the Milky Way galaxy.
Star Catalogs from around the World
The genius of Greek astronomy is epitomized by the star catalogs of Hipparchus and Ptolemy. Professor Schaefer recounts his exciting discovery of a star chart apparently influenced by Hipparchus's lost catalog. Close by comparing Greek star catalogs with those of China and the Arab world.
Night Sky - Navigating the Constellations
This program describes the specific patterns of stars in the night sky. In compelling, easy to understand animations, students will be able to decode the constellations and other important celestial bodies. Ancient astronomers described how constellations might appear in different seasons in various parts of the World. This program also…
Astronomy – Probing the First Stars & Galaxies
Part of the Series: Show Me Science Series - Advanced
Visible light, which can be seen with our eyes, comprises a small sliver of the electromagnetic spectrum. The rest of the spectrum, from short wavelength gamma rays to long-wavelength radio waves, requires special instruments to detect. ALMA uses and array of radio telescopes to detect and study radio waves from…