Examples of Seasonal Constellations
26 SEP 2017
You can't see all the constellations every night of the year. This is due to both your position on Earth, as well as the movement of the sun through the sky. The sun travels along a line called the ecliptic. The zodiac constellations "travel" along this line. When the sun passes through a zodiac constellation, you will be able to see the constellations opposite it during the night.
1 The Importance of Latitude
The north star will be in a different place in the sky depending on your latitude. At the north pole, it is overhead. At the equator, it is on the horizon. At the south pole, the constellations near the north star will be impossible to see at any time. Your experience of the seasons also changes, depending on whether you are in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere. For example, January is a winter month in the Northern Hemisphere, but a summer month in the Southern Hemisphere. Consequently, the winter constellations of the Northern Hemisphere are summer constellations in the Southern Hemisphere.
The sun passes through Sagittarius, Capricorn and Aquarius during winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Therefore, you can't see those constellations in the winter night sky. Instead, you will be able to see other zodiac constellations, such as Taurus, Gemini and Cancer. Depending on your latitude, you may also be able to see some other constellations around them, such as Orion, Canis Minor, Canis Major and Auriga.
The sun passes through Pisces, Aries and Taurus during spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Therefore, you won't be able to see these constellations during the spring. Instead, you will be able to see Leo, Virgo and Libra during the spring. Additionally, you may be able to see constellations close to them, such as Hercules, Corona Borealis and Bootes.
The sun travels through Gemini, Cancer and Leo during summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Therefore, you will not be able to see these constellations during the summer. You will be able to see Scorpio, Sagittarius and Capricorn in the summer night sky. Additionally, you may be able to see other summer constellations, such as Lyra, Aquila and Cygnus.
The sun travels through Virgo, Libra and Scorpio during fall in the Northern Hemisphere. Therefore, these constellations won't be visible. You should be able to see Aquarius, Pisces and Aries in the fall night sky. You may also be able to see some other constellations near these three, including Andromeda, Pegasus and Perseus.
- 1 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Celestial Sphere -- Measuring the Sky: A Quick Guide to the Celestial Sphere
- 2 Iowa State University: Winter Constellations
- 3 Iowa State University: Spring Constellations
- 4 Iowa State University: Summer Constellations
- 5 Iowa State University: Autumn Constellations
- 6 University of Nebraska, Lincoln: Seasons and the Zodiac