Seeing Patterns – arrangement of stars in the sky is undoubtedly very ancient and predates civilization, but the first evidence of named constellations comes from Mesopotamia (Iraq) in about 3000BC.
- MesopotamiansÂ named some of their constellations after animals – for example; The Lion, The Great Bear, etc and other after occupations, such as ‘The Hunter’, ‘The Virgins’, ‘The Herdsman’ etc.
- Ancient Egyptians interpreted the constellations as representing their gods and goddess.
- Ancient Chinese astronomers arranged the night sky in an entirely different manner. The stars were grouped into 28 lunar mansions that divided into four groups – The Red Bird of the South, The Black Tortoise of the North, the Blue dragon of the East, and the White Tiger of the West.
- Individual mansions had names that were mostly taken from everyday life, such as the Encampment, the Roof, the Room, and the Winnowing-basket; although the ancient Chinese knew the modern constellation of Cancer as the Ghost.
- In ancient India, astronomers arranged the night sky into n27 divisions that were known as nakshratra. Â Each nakshratra was centred on a particular star or planet and associated with a certain god or goddess.
- In Australia, under clear desert skies, the Aborigines interpreted the night sky in an entirely different manner – they saw pictures and patterns in the areas of relative between the stars.
- Easily identifiable patterns of stars that do not form whole constellation are called asterisms. Â The most famous asterism is the Big Dipper, known as the Plough – that forms part of Ursa Major.