by Ursula Majors
(Image credit: Flickr user Diana Kathrina Leomo)
A constellation is a group of stars that form a particular pattern. The celestial sphere is traditionally divided into 88 such constellations. Most are arranged to resemble characters from Ancient Greek mythology, and all have Latin names. Examples include Aries, Cygnus, Pisces and Virgo.
[caption id="attachment_53203" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Figure 1. The constellation Cassiopeia transformed into Handgun."][/caption]
These archaic descriptors and their associated myths are usually lost on today’s youth. Adolescents have difficulty relating to outdated objects such as harps, herdsmen and flying horses, as they are enamored with modern-day conveniences such as cars, computers and coffee shops. It should come as no surprise that fewer and fewer young people show any interest in astronomy.
[caption id="attachment_53204" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Figure 2. The constellation Gemini transformed into Cell Phone."][/caption]
I have devised a comprehensive restructuring of constellation naming conventions as a means of attracting more students. Along with radical design changes, it also forsakes Latin names in favor of modern English.
For example, consider Cassiopeia, which depicts the mythological queen sitting in a chair. I believe that this constellation would be much more palatable to today’s youth if it were reoriented and renamed Handgun, as illustrated in Figure 1.
[caption id="attachment_53205" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Figure 3. The constellation Taurus transformed into Electric Guitar."][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_53206" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Figure 4. The constellation Leo transformed into Motorcycle."][/caption]
Likewise, Gemini, which portrays twin brothers Castor and Pollux, would be better served if it were transformed into Cell Phone, as shown in Figure 2.
Two additional examples are Taurus refurbished as Electric Guitar (Figure 3) and Leo modernized to become Motorcycle (Figure 4). These are but a few of the possibilities. If my constellation reformation is embraced by the scientific community, I will supply others.
_____________________The article above is republished with permission from the January-February 2008 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!
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