Rotating Question Curious About Astronomy? Ask an Astronomer

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

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.

February 2002, Jagadheep D. Pandian (more by Jagadheep D. Pandian) (Like this Answer)

Still Curious?

Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:

Related questions:

More questions about Stargazing: Previous | Next

How to ask a question:

If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.

Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist

URL: http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/question.php?number=173
This page has been accessed 28017 times since August 24, 2002.
Last modified: December 3, 2002 3:37:04 PM

Legal questions? See our copyright, disclaimer and privacy policy.
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.

Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)