Take it from Danny and Sandy, stargazing is a must on summer nights. But it can also be worth it to brave the cold as you wait for a meteor shower with a cup of hot chocolate.
Stars represent the other galaxies, universes, and whatever else that lays far beyond our night sky. And because of this, we will never get tired of looking for constellations.
But our friends in the Southern Hemisphere can’t see some of our beloved constellations, and we can’t see some of theirs. If you’re an avid stargazer, you may need to start planning a trip, and we’ve compiled a list of hemispheric-specific constellations for your reading pleasure.
Stars you can only see in the Northern Hemisphere
1. Ursa Major (The Big Dipper)
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, the Big Dipper is a constellation staple. You just need to look north, and the 7 stars that form the Big Dipper appear in the familiar shape. Chances are, this was the first constellation you learned. According to Space.com, the Big Dipper (or Plough) is one of the most important constellations in the night sky. For anyone in the latitude of New York or higher, this constellation never goes below the horizon. To see the Big Dipper in all of its big dipper glory, you must be north of latitude 25 degrees south.
2. Cassiopeia (The Queen)
Looking like a flat “W” pressed against our Milky Way, Cassiopeia can best be seen in the late fall and winter months. The star in the middle of the constellation, Gamma Cassiopei, is about 15 times bigger than the sun, and if you added up all of its energy, it would be 40,000 times brighter. Cassiopeia is home to a large accumulation of young stars.
3. Cepheus (The King)
Cepheus is an old constellation, discovered in the 2nd century, and it looks more like a house than a king. The star at the very top of the house-like structure is a Cepheid, or a giant star used as a reference point for measuring distances. If we lived on Mars, this would be like our North Star. Cepheus contains the hyperluminous quasar S5 0014+81 that hosts the biggest black hole in the universe.
4. Ursa Minor (The Little Dipper)
Ursa Minor is best known for the star at its tail, the North Star, or Polaris. It’s called the North Star because it never budges from its spot at the end of the Little Dipper. It is the brightest star in the constellation and the brightest Cepheid in the night sky.
Click here for Stars you can only see in the Southern Hemisphere