Humans have looked at the night sky since prehistory. They knew that there were moving stars: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. We do not have evidence that suggests when humans first noticed this. But we do see archaeological evidence that indicates where some of our knowledge originated.

The Sumerians appear to be the first people to use constellations to recognize features in the sky (4500 BCE). The Chinese appear to be the first observers to create star charts (700 CE). Many of the constellations we use today are from the Greek and Roman mythology (about 20 CE). Many of the star names we use today are from Arabic (about 750 CE). In 1928 CE the International Astronomical Union defined the 88 current constellations. They broke the sky into regions (like states). These are the constellations we use today. There never will be any new ones.

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Aaron Clevenson
Author: Aaron ClevensonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I am the observatory director at the Insperity Observatory in Humble ISD. I am also an adjunct astronomy professor at Lone Star College-Montgomery where I teach solar system astronomy and stars and galaxies astronomy. I am the author of the astronomy textbook, “Astronomy for Mere Mortals.” I am a past president of the North Houston Astronomy Club, and was the chair of Astronomy Day in Southeast Texas in 2015 and 2016. He is an observing program director with The Astronomical League, coordinates their Master Observer Progression Awards, and has authored six of their observing programs.

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