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in the sky: the origin and history of the constellations

From the 48 figures imagined by the ancient Greeks to the 88 areas of sky that we know today, Ian Ridpath explains how the constellations came to be.

In the days before writing, storytellers used the sky as a picture book to illustrate their tales of gods, mythical heroes and fabulous beasts. Those pictures among the stars were the origin of our system of constellations. Today, the entire sky is divided into 88 constellations of varying shapes and sizes. This talk, which will include illustrations from some of the world’s greatest star atlases of the 18th and 19th centuries, will trace the origin of the constellation system back to Greek times and explain how the gaps between the Greek figures were filled in by later astronomers, who decided on the official boundaries between constellations, and how the names of certain stars came about.


Mr Ian Ridpath | talks | www


Date and Time:

14 October 2008 at 1:00 pm


1 hour



Royal Astronomical Society
Burlington House

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£3 for advance tickets, free after 1215 on the day

Available from:

Reception at the Royal Astronomical Society.

Additional Information:

Tube: Green Park
Tel: 020 7734 3307
Seats will be offered on a first-come first served basis.

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