Astronomers estimate there are 300 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. You don’t have to go to space to see some of them either.
Take your telescope with you on your next trip to the picnic table to take a peek at the constellations.
Gazing at the stars puts you in touch with nature. A good glimpse of the night sky lets you document space without leaving Earth. You feel like you’ve experienced an up-close phenomenon though you’re light-years away.
Never forget that the unique complexities of the galaxies hold your gaze long enough to heal you. That’s right. A few minutes every day looking at the stars does some good to your mental health.
If you love star gazing, keep reading this guide. Here are seven easy-to-spot constellations that are totally out of this world.
1. Ursa Major: The Great Bear
Ursa Major—the Great Bear—consists of seven main stars. Two of them, Dubhe and Merak, shine brighter than any other star in the constellation. Their luminescence makes The Great Bear easy to spot.
If you’re gazing at Ursa Major from any spot in the US, you’re looking at the big dipper. Start here if you want to see the brilliance of the night stars.
2. Then There’s Ursa Minor
The beaming beauty of Ursa Major makes it hard to shift your gaze at another constellation. Don’t stop at the big bear. Ursa Minor has something major to look at as well.
Also known as the Little Bear, Ursa Minor sits like a close companion to the Ursa Major. You can recognize it by its brightest star—Polaris. First-time gazers call Ursa Minor by its nickname—the Little Dipper.
3. Orion AKA the Hunter
If you don’t know where to start when you look through a telescope, go for Orion. The Hunter is the easiest constellation to find. The belt of the constellation has three bright stars that form a straight line.
When you see the straight line, you can easily make out the dip or the Betelgeuse. That’s The Hunter’s armpit. Stretch your gaze a bit and watch as the remainder of the body comes into full sight.
The most fascinating part is the belt. From it, you’ll notice the hunter’s sword hanging.
4. The Gemini Twins
Once you spot Orion, you’re within a gaze of the Gemini or The Twins. The Gemini sits next to The Hunter’s arm.
The stars in this constellation line up and form two stick figure twins. They touch with outstretched arms. Look for two bright stars. They’re the twins. Trace the rest of the body from there.
Gemini is a great constellation if you’re looking to start a picture collection. Click here for help starting with that.
5. Taurus “The Bull”
This one is also super-easy to find. It sits next to Orion as well. Taurus shows its brilliance better in the spring and early summer.
To spot it, look for its brightest star, Aldebaran. From there, you can trace the rest of The Bull.
If you’re curious about the Milly Way, Aquila is the place to start. This constellation lies in the Milky Way band and is actually visible to the naked eye.
Its prominent star—Altair—shines so bright, you can see it from Earth. Once you locate Altair, a V-shaped Aquila is there in all her glory. As Aquila connects to Altair, she resembles an eagle.
Aries, also known as The Ram, illuminates better in November. This constellation has four visible stars. A fifth star appears sometimes.
Gazers can find Aries by looking for Hamal—the orange giant. It’s the largest most visible star in The Ram.
Common Constellations: Start Star Gazing Today
Staring at constellations is a great way to connect to the universe. Find a spot in nature, look up at the open sky, and take in the beauty.
Don’t stop at the stars. Go further. Check out our lifestyle guides for more great ways to experience nature.