A Guide To Constellations Seen From Bozeman, Montana
We are lucky to be able to easily see the stars here in Montana. If you drive just a bit out of town you can really see the stars. This got me thinking, what constellations are the ones we get to see the best in Bozeman. We compiled a list of the top ten constellations with the mythology behind them along with explanations on how to find each one.
Most of us know where Orion is and how to find him by searching for the three stars that make up his belt during the winter months. The famous star Betelgeuse is also part of Orion, located in what would be the Orion's left shoulder. Have you ever heard of the link between the Gyza Pyramids and Orion's Belt?
I never knew this but Ursa Major, or Big Dipper, is the tail and back of a much larger constellation, Greater Bear. You can see an image of both Ursa Major and Greater Bear here. This is one of the most famous constellations and is represented on the Alaskan and Australian flags. The Big Dipper is great guide for finding the Northern Star as well. Simply find the big dipper, and the two outside stars representing the cup of the constellation point directly to the bright Northern Star as illustrated in this diagram.
Ursa Major is actually an Asterism. What this means is that from Earth the stars appear to be close but are actually very far apart.
Cassiopeia is the large W shape in the sky made of five stars. In Bozeman you can see Cassiopeia all year round. If you are ever searching for the Milky Way, simply find Cassiopeia because it is positioned exactly where the Milky Way is visible. Usually depicted as if she is sitting in her thrown combing her hair.
the easiest way to find Andromeda is to first find the W of Cassiopeia as the bottom of the W points to Andromeda. The outline of the character is difficult to see but she the popular image depicted in drawings is of her shackled to the rocks for a sacrifice to the gods.
Located to the south not high above the horizon from July to September. You can find it by looking east of Scorpius and to the west of Capricornus. The constellation often described as a tea pot shape.
Cygnus is another summer constellation. You can find it by first looking to the North for Ursa Minor, the Little Dipper, and then pretend it has a hole in the bottom of its cup and it is leaking. Follow that drip until you see what looks like a kite. I always called it a kite before I knew what it was an actual constellation.
To find Ursa Minor, Little Dipper, simply find the Big Dipper and follow the two outside stars of the cup of the Dipper and they will point to the end of the handle on the little dipper which is also the North Star. Ursa Minor is also an Asterism just like Ursa Major.
Gemini is located just above and to the left of Orion's right arm. If you go in a line from Orion's belt of three stars to his left shoulder, Betelgeuse, you will run into the feet of the Gemini twins.
Located just below Andromeda. It's a more complex constellation but it's discoverable. Its major distinctive piece is a trapezoidal box that makes up the horses body.
Visible in the Winter, Taurus is just above and to the right of Orion.