Are you familiar with any constellations?

common constellations

Constellations or zodiac signs?

You have probably heard of zodiac signs. This is when signs get brought up such as Leo, Taurus or Pisces. The collection of these zodiac signs is talked about in astrology, a pseudoscience that assigns characteristics to people born in a certain date range. Astronomy, on the other hand, is the science of the universe and the celestial bodies, which includes everything that is outside the earth. Here we speak of star patterns as constellations.


Which constellations are you familiar with? And which constellations can be seen from Sweden? Some of them can only be seen during certain seasons or times of the day. Here is an overview of the most common constellations and how you can view them.


To find your bearings in the sky, it is a good idea to first look for Polaris. Unlike other stars and constellations, Polaris looks to be staying in the same place. This is because the Earth spins on its own axis and the axis happens to be directed towards Polaris. The stars and constellations that are closest to Polaris can be seen most easily as they stay above the horizon throughout the dark night.

the pole star

Big Dipper

A collection of stars that are easily recognizable due to their typical shape of a chariot. Big Dipper is not actually classified as a constellation but is instead referred to as an asterism. Asterism means that it is a collection of stars that is easily recognized. Big Dipper is in reality part of the larger constellation Ursa Major.

Big Dipper

Ursa Major

Ursa Major is a constellation characterized by a large body, four legs and a long tail. Despite the long tail, which is usually not a feature of bears, many people in various places have recognized it as a bear anyway.


Located about the same distance from Polaris as Big Dipper, but in the opposite direction. It almost looks as if Polaris lies right between Cassiopeia and Big Dipper. The constellation Cassiopeia looks like a slightly crooked W and can be seen in the sky throughout the year in Sweden.



One of the most easily recognizable constellations in the starry sky. Orion is also called the hunter as it looks like a human body with outstretched arms. The constellation cannot be seen all year as it disappears for parts of the year when it passes below the horizon. Orion is most easily seen in winter.


Betelgeuse and Bellatrix

Orion contains several exciting stars. One of these is Betelgeuse, a red supergiant star with a volume that is a billion times that of the Sun, but in the last hundred years it has been seen to shrink in size at a rapid rate. This means that within some time it may turn into a supernova. A supernova occurs when a supergiant star dies. Directly above Betelgeuse, on the hunter’s other shoulder, we find Bellatrix, a blue-white giant star that is four times hotter than the Sun.

Orion’s belt

As the name suggests, this is a collection of stars around the waist of the hunter, i.e. the constellation Orion. Orion’s belt consists of three stars that are placed in a row. 

A telescope gives you a closer look

Now we have taken a quick look at the constellations that are among the easiest to see in the sky with the naked eye. While it is possible to locate the constellations and pinpoint which ones they are, seeing them up close is another matter entirely. A good telescope will enable you to get closer to the stars and constellations we just listed. With the help of a telescope, you may be able to see the Orion Nebula and all its colors, among other things. Or you’ll find other details up there in the starry sky. Good luck the next time you decide to gaze up!