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So, you know about stars. But what if those stars formed a super group like The Avengers? Well, then you have a constellation! In this episode of Crash Course Kids, Sabrina chats about stars, constellations, and how humans have used constellations to tell stories for a really long time.

///Standards Used in This Video///
5-ESS1-2. Represent data in graphical displays to reveal patterns of daily changes in length and direction of shadows, day and night, and the seasonal appearance of some stars in the night sky. [Clarification Statement: Examples of patterns could include the position and motion of Earth with respect to the sun and selected stars that are visible only in particular months.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include causes of seasons.]

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Producer & Editor: Nicholas Jenkins
Cinematographer & Director: Michael Aranda
Host: Sabrina Cruz
Script Supervisor: Mickie Halpern
Writer: Kay Boatner

Executive Producers: John & Hank Green
Consultant: Shelby Alinsky
Script Editor: Blake de Pastino

Thought Cafe Team:
Stephanie Bailis
Cody Brown
Suzanna Brusikiewicz
Jonathan Corbiere
Nick Counter
Kelsey Heinrichs
Jack Kenedy
Corey MacDonald
Tyler Sammy
Nikkie Stinchcombe
James Tuer
Adam Winnik

(CrashCourse Kids Intro plays)

We spent the last few episodes talking about the effects of the atmosphere on the geosphere and the hydrosphere on the biosphere, as well as solving some pretty big engineering problems. So how about we take a break from Earth this time and talk about space? Now you might be thinking “but we've already learned about stars,” well you're right, or at least you've been paying attention. But we learned about individual stars, basically, how they do what they do is solo acts out there in the universe. But what happens when a bunch of stars been together to form a super-group, sort of like The Avengers of the night sky? Well then they're called a constellation. Today we'll talk about these groups of stars and why they're so important to astronomers, besides being just plain cool... or hot... you know what I mean.

(text: Big Question)

So what exactly is a constellation? A constellation is a cluster of stars in the sky that have been grouped together in a pattern or shape and have been given a name. But before we take a closer look at constellations, let's review what a start is. Remember a star is a bright object in space that gives off light from the energy that it makes in its core. The Sun is the most famous star to us Earthlings. We've already talked about a few other well-known stars though, like bright Betelgeuse. Astronomers use bright stars like Betelgeuse as markers in the sky to help find other less bright objects in space.

For example if you were looking for a dim star like Sirius B, you might have to look for a long time to spot it among the many, many, many, many other stars in the sky, but if you're able to spot a much brighter star like Sirius A, and you know that Sirius B is located to the lower left of Sirius A, then it'll be much easier to find Sirius B. Like I said, there are so many stars in the sky that trying to spot just one can be tough, especially if it's not near a bright one like Betelgeuse or Sirius A.

That's where constellations come in. Astronomers use constellations to help them better map the night sky. Think of stars like cities on a map and constellations like countries. Finding a large shape in the sky made of many stars is a lot easier to spot than trying to find one single speck. Plus there only 88 named constellations, which is a much more reasonable number to deal with than a billion. And most of the 88 recognized constellations came from the ancient Greeks. The stars in the constellations aren't related in any particular way, they just form a shape that the Greeks used to tell stories about their gods, goddesses and mythical creatures, like flying horses and giant scorpions.

(text: investigation)

Now that we know what a constellation is, why don't we get to know some of the more famous ones? Harry Potter fans will recognize the name of our first constellation. Its name means dragon in Latin, it also happens to be the name of Harry's biggest nemesis... well second biggest, after Vol-- he you must not be named of course. Yep, it's Draco. According to legend, Draco was a dragon killed by the goddess Minerva and was tossed into the sky. Draco was one of 48 constellations described way back in the second century by Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy. People have been seeing this dragon-like shape in the night sky for a long time.

Constellations are just named after creatures though, some are named after a mythical people, particularly gods and goddesses. One of the more well-known Greek God has his own constellation. And a Disney movie. I'll give you a hint: he'll go the distance. It’s Hercules! The stars in Hercules’ constellation take the shape of the mighty hero as if he's holding a bow after just releasing an arrow. You go Hercules!

The name of our next notable constellation also made an appearance in Hercules movie as a super cute winged horse. Say hello to Pegasus! According to Greek mythology, Hercules never actually rode Pegasus like in the movie, but the flying horse did spend some time with Zeus, king of the gods. Zeus liked Pegasus so much he transformed him into a constellation in place them in the night sky for everyone to see.

Now you're familiar with at least three of the 88 constellations in our sky, only eighty five more to go. As the Earth rotates you'll see Draco, Hercules, and Pegasus, plus all the other constellations over the course of a year, but more on when and where you can see the constellations in the next episode.

(text: conclusion)

So now you know what a star is and that a cluster of stars in the sky that are grouped together in a particular pattern is called a constellation. Besides having really cool shapes and stories behind their names, constellations help astronomers and us map the night sky.  Since space is so huge in massive and ginormous our map is far from complete, so anything that helps us navigate that vast well base of space is OK by me. Thanks for the help constellations.