There are two ways to think of constellations. First, and foremost, a constellation is a grouping of stars that usually represent some mythological being. In the first chart Orion appears as a stick figure torso with a belt of three stars and holding what is depicted as a raised club and perhaps a dead lion. The interconnecting lines aid in identifying the spatial relationships between the constellation’s stars by guiding our eye from one star to the next. Secondarily, a constellation is an area of the sky, which is delineated in the second chart by the white field. If the Sun, Moon, a planet, or some other celestial object happens to appear within a constellation’s borders, it is said to be located in that constellation.
© James R. Johnson, 2015.