CAIRO – 7 August 2022: Different cultures interpreted different shapes of stars observed at night to everything from creation myths to mythical characters and god-like animals, depending on the sighting.
Some of these cultural references go back thousands of years and possibly older. They are early examples of humanity's preoccupation with symbolism in the world around us, and of how vastly different cultures interpreted similar things in the sky, according to Discover magazine.
“Cultures all over the world organize stars into constellations or single stars. However, there are striking similarities in asterisks across cultures, and groupings such as the Great Dipper and the Southern Cross. It is widely known across many different cultures,” wrote authors of a research paper recently published in the Journal of Psychological Science.
Many of the constellations recognized by ancient cultures are still not well understood by modern scholars although we have identified some of their names or the role these stars played in calendar systems.
Here are some examples of constellations we know well, and what they mean for cultures that have connected their stellar points:
Taurus can be seen in the northern hemisphere during winter and early spring. The red giant star forms one of the eyes of the bull.
The Big Dipper is one of the most famous constellations in the night sky. It has a number of different interpretations, depending on the culture and time period.
Many ancient cultures know this constellation of stars as "The Seven Sisters", "Seven Virgins" or other similar names. While only six stars are usually visible to many people, the group actually consists of as many as 12 visible stars to the naked eye in a very dark area in ancient Greece. The name Pleiadesrefers to the seven daughters of Atlas.