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This article is about the star grouping. For other uses, see Constellation (disambiguation). | | | | * Top: Baroque drawing of the constellation Orionfrom Johannes Hevelius' celestial catalogue * Bottom: Contemporary map of Orion from the IAUand photography of the night sky |
In everyday usage, a constellation is a traditional or recognizable group of stars in the night sky, or the region of the sky containing them. In technical usage these meanings have been separated, with groupings of stars being called asterisms, and the word constellation being reserved for a specific area of the celestial sphere with boundaries
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Since stars also travel on their own orbits through the Milky Way, the star patterns of the constellations change slowly over time. After tens to hundreds of thousands of years, their familiar outlines will become unrecognisable.[4]
The earliest direct evidence for the constellations comes from inscribed stones and clay writing tablets dug up in Mesopotamia (within modern Iraq) dating back to 3000 BC.[5] It seems that the bulk of the Mesopotamian constellations were created within a relatively short interval from around 1300 to 1000 BC. These groupings appeared later in many of the classical Greek constellations.[6]
Ancient near East[edit]
See also: Old Babylonian astronomy

Babylonian tablet recording Halley's comet in 164 BC.
The Babylonians were the first to recognize that astronomical phenomena are periodic and apply mathematics to


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