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constellation

[kon-stuh-ley-shuh n] /ˌkɒn stəˈleɪ ʃən/
noun
1.
Astronomy.
  1. any of various groups of stars to which definite names have been given, as Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Boötes, Cancer, Orion.
  2. the section of the heavens occupied by such a group.
2.
Astrology.
  1. the grouping or relative position of the stars as supposed to influence events, especially at a person's birth.
  2. Obsolete. character as presumed to be determined by the stars.
3.
a group or configuration of ideas, feelings, characteristics, objects, etc., that are related in some way:
a constellation of qualities that made her particularly suited to the job.
4.
any brilliant, outstanding group or assemblage:
a constellation of great scientists.
Origin
1275-1325
1275-1325; Middle English constellacioun (< Anglo-French) < Late Latin constellātiōn- (stem of constellātiō). See constellate, -ion
Related forms
constellatory
[kuh n-stel-uh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /kənˈstɛl əˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/ (Show IPA),
adjective
subconstellation, noun
Synonyms
4. gathering, company, circle.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for constellations
  • Think constellations, fall's cool evening air, and moonrises over the badlands.
  • And after dark, the constellations weave a starry canopy.
  • The investigators rendered walking human and animal figures as constellations of white dots on a computer screen.
  • By lying on the deck you can see everything from meteors to satellites to planets to stars to constellations.
  • The stars twisting in their constellations above had never seemed farther or colder.
  • Her constellations come, and round the heavens, and go.
  • Her constellations come, and climb the heavens, and go.
  • It may be that the psychic constellations during wit-work are not at all favorable to the free discharge of the energy gained.
  • My boots and chair and candlestick are fairies in disguise, meteors and constellations.
  • Finally, he gazed up into the night sky to look at the surface of moon and explore the constellations.
British Dictionary definitions for constellations

constellation

/ˌkɒnstɪˈleɪʃən/
noun
1.
  1. any of the 88 groups of stars as seen from the earth and the solar system, many of which were named by the ancient Greeks after animals, objects, or mythological persons
  2. an area on the celestial sphere containing such a group
2.
a gathering of brilliant or famous people or things
3.
(psychoanal) a group of ideas felt to be related
Derived Forms
constellational, adjective
constellatory (kənˈstɛlətərɪ; -trɪ) adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Late Latin constellātiō, from Latin com- together + stella star
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for constellations

constellation

n.

early 14c., from Old French constellacion "constellation, conjuncture (of planets)," from Late Latin constellationem (nominative constellatio) "set with stars," from constellatus, from Latin com- "with" (see com-) + past participle of stellare "to shine," from stella "star" (see star). Originally in astrology, of position of planets ("stars") in regard to one another on a given day, usually one's birth day, as a determination of one's character. "I folwed ay myn inclinacioun/By vertu of my constillacioun" (Chaucer, "Wife's Prologue," c.1386). Modern astronomical sense is from 1550s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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constellations in Science
constellation
  (kŏn'stə-lā'shən)   

  1. A group of stars seen as forming a figure or design in the sky, especially one of 88 officially recognized groups, many of which are based on mythological traditions from ancient Greek and Middle Eastern civilizations.

  2. An area of the sky occupied by one of the 88 recognized constellations. These irregularly defined areas completely fill the celestial sphere and divide it into nonoverlapping sections used in describing the location of celestial objects.


Our Living Language  : Various cultures throughout history have chosen different groups of stars in the night sky to form different constellations. While it was once thought that the Greeks were responsible for determining many of the constellations known today, it is now believed that the mythological origins of the 48 ancient constellations predate the Greeks and originate instead from ancient Middle Eastern civilizations. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries another 40 constellations were invented by Europeans for navigational purposes. The boundaries of the 88 constellations currently recognized were defined in the 1920s by the International Astronomical Union. There is no scientific reason why there are exactly 88; the modern constellations are only a convenient way to break up the sky to locate the position of celestial objects or track satellites. Although the stars in any given constellation may look like they're neighbors, they can actually be many light-years apart, and if seen from another part of the galaxy they would form different groups and shapes altogether. Constellation names are usually given in Latin, such as Ursa Major (Great Bear) or Centaurus (Centaur), and individual stars in constellations are named in order of brightness, using the Greek alphabet, with the genitive case of the constellation following. Therefore, Alpha Centauri is the brightest star in the constellation Centaurus, Beta Centauri is the second brightest star, and so on. The stars within our galaxy are rushing through space in various directions, and as the millennia pass, the arrangements of the star groups as seen from Earth will change, inevitably altering the constellations as we know them.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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constellations in Culture

constellation definition


An easily recognized group of stars that appear to be located close together in the sky and that form a picture if lines connecting them are imagined. Constellations are usually named after an animal, a character from mythology, or a common object. (See Big Dipper, Ursa Major, and Ursa Minor.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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constellations in the Bible

a cluster of stars, or stars which appear to be near each other in the heavens, and which astronomers have reduced to certain figures (as the "Great Bear," the "Bull," etc.) for the sake of classification and of memory. In Isa. 13:10, where this word only occurs, it is the rendering of the Hebrew _kesil_, i.e., "fool." This was the Hebrew name of the constellation Orion (Job 9:9; 38:31), a constellation which represented Nimrod, the symbol of folly and impiety. The word some interpret by "the giant" in this place, "some heaven-daring rebel who was chained to the sky for his impiety."

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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