Do constellations looks the same from space? (Beginner)

Do constellations looks the same from space?

We get this questions in a variety of flavours. Two recent examples:

Can the constellation Orion be seen from the surface of Mars? And if so, where in the sky would it appear?

If an astronaut was traveling through the solar system and could look out a window, would stars be more or less visible? Would the constellations be visible as constellations? That is, would the stars still be in pretty much the same relationship as seen from Earth?

The answer is always the same..... Although the constellations are not usually stars which are physically associated with each other, you have to go a very significant distance from Earth before you would be able to see them appear as different shapes. Everywhere within the solar system the constellations would look just the same. If you could travel significant fractions of the distance to the nearest stars (many light years) then you would start to see some changes, but such travel is (unfortunately) way beyond our capabilities at present.

 

This page updated on June 27, 2015

About the Author

Karen Masters

Karen Masters

Karen was a graduate student at Cornell from 2000-2005. She went on to work as a researcher in galaxy redshift surveys at Harvard University, and is now on the Faculty at the University of Portsmouth back in her home country of the UK. Her research lately has focused on using the morphology of galaxies to give clues to their formation and evolution. She is the Project Scientist for the Galaxy Zoo project.

Twitter:  @KarenLMasters
Website:  http://icg.port.ac.uk/~mastersk/

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