Do you know your constellations?


Humans have always looked toward the heavens, trying to make sense of the stars. Are you a savvy stargazer? Test your knowledge of constellations, nearby galaxies and more!

Question 1 of 16

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True or false? Constellations are comprised of stars that are close to one another, and roughly the same distance from Earth.

The distance from each star to Earth varies, and the distance between stars can be misleading. Hotter stars may glow more brightly, and stars that are approaching supernova status can be gigantic, making them appear closer. However, some constellations do contain stars that were formed as clusters.

Question 2 of 16

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Which constellation is this?

Cassiopeia is one of the most recognizable constellations. Its stars form a wide "W". This constellation has produced two supernovae and promises two more.

Question 3 of 16

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Why are the zodiac constellations significant?

Because these constellations follow the ecliptic, the path that the sun takes around the Earth in a single year, the zodiacal constellations have always been visible in the night sky. Zodiacal constellations are loosely related to the signs of our horoscopes.

Question 4 of 16

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Name this constellation:

Capricornus forms a triangle of sorts in the sky. This was historically one of the more ominous constellations, associated with sacrifices in ancient cultures.

Question 5 of 16

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Sirius, the brightest star, is in which constellation?

IAU Canis Major chart
Chart: IAU/Wikimedia Commons

Question 6 of 16

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Name the well-known constellation in this photograph:

The Big Dipper is one of the most recognizable patterns in the night sky — but it's not a formal constellation. It's an asterism that is located within Ursa Major, the Great Bear.

Question 7 of 16

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Asim Patel/Wikimedia Commons
Which zodiacal constellation does not have a meteor shower associated with it?

The Leonids, Geminids (pictured above) and Taurids all seem to come from or point in the direction of the constellations for which they are named. All of these are visible in the night sky when they occur.

Question 8 of 16

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Rogelio Bernal Andreo/Wikimedia Commons
Identify the constellation depicted in this deep sky photo:

In this photo of Orion, you can clearly see Orion's Belt at the center, as well as the red supergiant Betelgeuse at the top left. Orion also harbors the largest stellar nursery in Earth's region of the galaxy, the Orion nebula.

Question 9 of 16

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This "teapot" asterism is located within which constellation?

Sagittarius' "teapot" appears to be pouring out the Milky Way.

Question 10 of 16

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Name this constellation:

Above and left of Orion, Gemini contains two of the brighest stars, Castor and Pollux — named for the twin brothers of Helen of Troy. When mortal Castor died, his immortal brother Pollux asked to join him, so Zeus kept them together in the sky.

Question 11 of 16

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Which of these is NOT true about Libra?

Libra is a relatively faint constellation, with no first-magnitude stars. One of the stars within Libra's boundaries is Gliese 581 — and up to four of the planets surrounding this star could potentally harbor life.

Question 12 of 16

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Which constellation is pictured here?

Imagining the horns of a bull, Taurus is not difficult to identify. The "eye of the bull" is a red giant star called Aldebaran.

Question 13 of 16

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The Crab Nebula is found in which constellation?

The bright remnant of a supernova, Messier 1 (or Taurus A) can be seen using binoculars in the northwestern part of Taurus. The first in Charles Messier's catalogue of "comets," the astronomer initially thought it was Halley's Comet.

Question 14 of 16

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Identify this constellation:

A tip for identifying Leo: Look for the lion's mane first. This constellation's brightest star is Regulus, one of the brightest in our entire night sky.

Question 15 of 16

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Which constellation is often used to point the way to the North Star, Polaris?

Ursa Major's Big Dipper points the way to the North Star — just look at Alaska's state flag. Follow the line from two stars that are farthest from the handle and you'll find Polaris.

Question 16 of 16

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Which constellation is this?

Scorpius' tail dips beneath the horizon in this photo. In Greek mythology, a scorpion killed Orion and they were both immortalized in the stars.

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