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Spacer   As the sun sets and the first stars begin to shimmer in the twilight, people everywhere will look up to the sky. Cultures from around the world have shaped our views of the heavenly lights we see. For example, many of the star names in use today have origins in Arabic—Rigel, the bright blue star in the constellation of Orion, translates into “the foot,” and Deneb, a prominent yet very distant star in the constellation Cygnus, means “tail of the hen.” We can thank the ancient Greeks for our modern system of 88 constellations and the Romans for many of their names.

Use the planisphere and the calendar bar above to explore the night sky. All observations are from 40 N latitude at 9:00 p.m. local time unless otherwise noted. HINT: Your thumb, held at arm’s length, will make an angle of roughly one degree and your outstretched fist will cover an angle of about 10 degrees.
 

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