Will winter and summer constellations change due to abnormal warmth or cold on Earth? (Beginner)

I live in Virginia, where there has been recent warmth, about 10-20 degrees higher than the usual winter highs sometimes. There are "summer" and "winter" constellations. Is the unusual warmth going to affect the normal February constellations (i.e. is it going to change the way I view winter constellation maps)?

The constellations will not change just because of an unusually warm winter or an unusually cold summer. Let me explain by a small schematic diagram:

B <------------- W Sun S --------------> A

You know that the Earth goes around the Sun, and one full orbit corresponds to one year. A and B refer to stars (which are extremely far away compared to the distance between the Earth and the Sun) in the directions shown. And constellations are just imaginary patterns in the stars. S and W correspond to the location of Earth during summer and winter respectively.

During summer, the Earth is in position S. So, the stars marked B will be in our sky only during the day, and will set by night. Hence, you will not be able to see constellations in the direction of B. As a result, the only constellations that you can see during summer are those in A. Similarly, during winter, the Earth is in W, and the only constellations that are visible at night are those in B. The constellations that are visible at night depends only on the position of Earth with respect to the Sun.

As the position of the Earth is not going to change just because the winter is 20 degrees warmer, or the summer is 20 degrees colder, the constellations that are visible during different parts of the year will not change.


This page updated on June 27, 2015

About the Author

Jagadheep D. Pandian

Jagadheep D. Pandian

Jagadheep built a new receiver for the Arecibo radio telescope that works between 6 and 8 GHz. He studies 6.7 GHz methanol masers in our Galaxy. These masers occur at sites where massive stars are being born. He got his Ph.D from Cornell in January 2007 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Insitute for Radio Astronomy in Germany. After that, he worked at the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii as the Submillimeter Postdoctoral Fellow. Jagadheep is currently at the Indian Institute of Space Scence and Technology.

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