Constellation guide to the 88 official constellations which divide up the sky. These constellations are used to help navigate the celestial sphere. The Constellations are patterns in the sky which have been to invented and have deep mythology behind them. Constellations cover massive areas in the sky and as such are very easy to find.
Some of the constellations have very familiar names, such as Leo, Gemini, Virgo and Aquarius. There are 12 of these constellations and they form the Zodiac. The Zodiac constellations follow the line of the ecliptic. The ecliptic is the apparent path of the Sun on the celestial sphere.
Canis Major is one of the 88 modern constellations, and was also in Ptolemy's list of 48 constellations.
It is said to represent one of the dogs following Orion the hunter. Canis Major contains Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, and that star is part of the Winter Triangle.
Canis Major's alpha star Sirius is the brightest star besides the Sun as seen from Earth. It is also one of the nearest. The star's name means scorching, since the summer heat occurred just after Sirius' helical rising. The Ancient Greeks referred to such times in the summer as dog days, as only dogs would be mad enough to go out in the heat, leading to the star being known as the Dog Star. Consequently, the constellation was named after it, as a Big Dog.
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