American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. Astronomy An arbitrary formation of stars perceived as a figure or design, especially one of 88 recognized groups named after characters from classical mythology and various common animals and objects.
- n. Astronomy An area of the celestial sphere occupied by one of the 88 recognized constellations.
- n. The configuration of planets at the time of one's birth, regarded by astrologers as determining one's character or fate.
- n. A gathering or an assemblage, especially of prominent persons or things: The symposium was attended by a constellation of artists and writers.
- n. A set or configuration, as of related items, properties, ideas, or individuals: a constellation of demands ranging from better food to improved health care; a constellation of feelings about the divorce.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A group of fixed stars to which a definite name has been given, but which does not form a part of another named group. See asterism. Forty-eight constellations are mentioned in the ancient catalogue of Ptolemy, the majority of which appear to date from 2100 b. c. or earlier. They are distributed as follows: North of the zodiac: Ursa Minor (the Little Bear, said to be formed by Thales, probably from the Dragon's wing), Ursa Major (the Great Bear, the Wain, or the Dipper), Draco (the Dragon), Cepheus, Boötes (the Bear-keeper or Plowman), Corona Borealis (the Northern Crown), Hercules (in the original the Man Kneeling), Lyra (the Harp), Cygnus (the Swan, in the original the Bird), Cassiopeia (the Lady in the Chair), Perseus, Auriga (the Charioteer or Wagoner), Ophiuchus or Serpentarius (the Serpent-bearer), Serpens (the Serpent), Sagitta (the Arrow), Aquila et Antinoüs (the Eagle and Antinoüs), Delphinus (the Dolphin), Equulus or Equuleus (the Colt or the Horse's Head), Pegasus or Equus ⟨the Horse), Andromeda, Triangulum Boreale (the Northern Triangle). In the zodiac: Aries (the Ram), Taurus (the Bull), Gemini (the Twins), Cancer (the Crab), Leo (the Lion), Virgo (the Virgin), Libra (the Balance), Scorpius or Scorpio (the Scorpion), Sagittarius (the Archer), Capricornus (Capricorn, or the Goat), Aquarius (the Water-bearer), Pisces (the Fishes). South of the zodiac: Cetus (the Whale), Orion. ‘Eridanus or Fluvius (the River Po or the River), Lupus (the Hare), Canis Major (the Great Dog), Canis Minor (the Little Dog), Argo Navis (the Ship Argo), Hydra Crater (the Cup), Corvus (the Crow or Raven), Centaurus (the Centaur), Lupus (the Wolf), Ara (the Altar), Corona Australis (the Southern Crown), Piscis Australis (the Southern Fish). Coma Berenices (the Hair of Berenice) is an ancient asterism, which was not reckoned as a constellation by Ptolemy. Antinoüs, mentioned by Ptolemy as part of the constellation Aquila, is said to have been made a separate constellation by Firmicus in the fourth century. Crux (the Crozier or Southern Cross) appears to be mentioned by Dante. The navigators of the sixteenth century added a number of southern constellations. Twelve of these appear in the important star-atlas of Bayer (a. d. 1603), namely: Apus (the Bird of Paradise), Chameleon, Dorado (the Goldfish; or Xiphias. the Swordfish), Grus (the Crane), Hydrus (the Watersnake), Indus (the Indian Man), Musca or Apis (the Fly or the Bee), Pavo (the Peacock), Phœnix, Triangulum Australe (the Southern Triangle), the Toucan (also called Anser Americanus), and Volans (the Flying-fish). Columba (the Dove of Noah) was made by Petrus Plancius early in the sixteenth century. Bartschius in 1624 added several constellations, of which Camelopardalis (the Camelopard) and Monoceros (the Unicorn) are retained by modern astronomers. Hevelius in 1690 added Canes Venatici (the Greyhounds), Lacerta (the Lizard), Leo Minor (the Small Lion), Lynx (the Lynx), Scutum Sobiescii (the Shield of Sobieski), Sextans (the Sextant), and Vulpecula et Anser (the Fox and the Goose). Finally, Lacaille in 1752 added Antlia Pneumatica (the Air-pump), Cælum (the Graver), Circinus (the Compass), Fornax (the Furnace), Horologium (the Clock), Mons Mensæ (the Table-mountain), Microscopium (the Microscope), Norma (the Quadrant), Octans (the Octant), Equus Pictorius (the Painter's Easel), Reticulum (the Net), Sculptor, and Telescopium (the Telescope). The ancient constellation Argo was broken up by Lacaille into the Stern, the Keel, the Sail, and the Mast. There are, thus, eighty-five constellations now recognized. The names of the constellations are mostly derived from Greek and Roman mythology. The practice of designating by the letters of the Greek alphabet (
α, β, γ, etc.) the stars which compose each constellation, in the order of their brilliancy, originated with Bayer.
- n. Figuratively, any assemblage of persons or things of a brilliant, distinguished, or exalted character: as, a constellation of wits or beauties, or of great authors.
- n. The influence of the heavenly bodies upon the temperament or life.
- n. An arbitrary formation of stars perceived as a figure or pattern.
- n. An image associated with a group of stars.
- n. astronomy Any of the 88 officially recognized regions of the sky, including all stars and celestial bodies in the region.
- n. astrology The configuration of planets at a given time (notably of birth), as used for determining a horoscope.
- n. figuratively A wide, seemingly unlimited assortment.
- n. A configuration or grouping.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. A cluster or group of fixed stars, or division of the heavens, designated in most cases by the name of some animal, or of some mythologial personage, within whose imaginary outline, as traced upon the heavens, the group is included.
- n. An assemblage of splendors or excellences.
- n. obsolete Fortune; fate; destiny.
- n. a configuration of stars as seen from the earth
- n. an arrangement of parts or elements
- From Middle English constellacioun, constillacioun, from Middle French constellation, from Latin constellātiō, from cōn ("with") + stēlla ("star, astral body"). (Wiktionary)
- Middle English constellacioun, from Old French constellation, from Late Latin cōnstellātiō, cōnstellātiōn- : Latin com-, com- + Latin stēlla, star; see ster-3 in Indo-European roots. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“Then, finally you are probably aware of South Africa's attempts to develop what it calls a constellation of States in southern Africa.”
“The Plough constellation is the best signpost to use in the Northern hemisphere, whereas The Southern Cross is the navigating star in the south.”
“The development of constellation is in progress and the big decisions have already been made.”
“But not just random, they are all totally in constellation patterns for the zodiac signs of the family members.”
“The big problem with constellation is only two parts Ares V and the Orion CM can be reused for Mars the rest it would not be applicable.”
“Emily Dickinson in this constellation is forever the lovelorn spinster, pining away in her father's mansion on Main Street in Amherst, Mass.”
“Each constellation is focused on a specific research area and comprises a multidisciplinary mix of senior and junior faculty and postdoctoral and graduate students.”
“Another, long-term constellation is forming that signals big structural changes on the global level (governments, economic systems, etc.).”
“When the Galileo constellation is complete in 2010 it will be accurate to within a metre and its stronger radio signals will enable receivers to work [...]”
“When the Galileo constellation is complete in 2010 it will be accurate to within a metre and its stronger radio signals will enable receivers to work in high-rise cities and even indoors.”
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