Constellations of Other Cultures Checklist

Alternate Constellation Observing Program Coordinator:

Brad Young
212 E. 16th St.
Tulsa OK USA 74119
(918) 629 9160

These checklists and the additional exercises (at the bottom of this page) are required for the Gold Level certification (certificate and pin).  You must also complete the Obsolete Constellation checklist (the Silver Level).

In studying the constellations and star groups of other cultures, it is important to note the similarities and differences. Many cultures, for instance, saw a pattern in what we call the asterism the Big Dipper. However, their lore and traditions may be different than ours, or may have changed over time. To meet the requirements of this portion, all the information provided for the Obsolete Constellations should be provided, as well as answering these 5 questions for each grouping researched and sketched:

  1. Does the selected and sketched pattern resemble any known asterism or official constellation that we use today? If so, which one(s)?
  2. Did the culture in this section have a similar mythology (e.g. dogs, hunter, boat, etc.)?
  3. If yes, describe any material differences in either the figure’s star pattern as imagined by the culture, and / or the difference in the mythology.
  4. Is it likely that this star group, for this culture, may have been influenced by older or adjacent cultures? If so, whom?
  5. If, for this culture, this group was significant for calendar, crop, or social events, describe what was involved, and how the timing or the appearance of the group was important or useful.

Special Note:

  • Please note, that due to issues with differing research interpretations of some of the ancient constellations, you can substitute another constellation from the same culture if you are having difficulty identifying specific constellations of other cultures.
  • For example:  Te Te – The 2 Groups (Akkadian).  This may be replaced by another constellation from the same culture (Asian) as long as all of the requirements of the program are met using the new constellation.

These constellations are a bit more of a challenge than the obsolete constellations.  We have included websites that are helpful under source.  If you discover other helpful websites, please let the Coordinator know.  We suggest asking your local library to see if they can get a copy of the books mentioned.

Native American Star Groups (20):

Star Group Tribe Source Completed
Never Ending Bear Hunt Micmac Website
She is Sitting Seneca Book: Stars of the First People, Dorcas S Miller, p 72
Coyote’s Family Shoshone Website
Slingshot Stars Cochiti Pueblos Book: They Dance in the Sky, Jean Guard Monroe & Ray A. Williamson
Star Zigzag Zuni Pueblos Website
Real Snake Pawnee Website
Wolf That Hangs at the Side of the Heavens Osage Website
3 Persons in a Race Coeur d’Alene Book: Stars of the First People, Dorcas S Miller, p 122
Lodge of Spider Man Blackfoot PDF File
Stones Supporting a Lamp Inuit Website
3 Who Went Together Apache Book: Stars of the First People, Dorcas S Miller, p 194
Spiderman’s Fingers Blackfoot PDF File
Mountain Sheep Paiute Website
4 Big Ones Zuni Pueblos ook: Stars of the First People, Dorcas S Miller, p 183
Snake Not Real Pawnee Book: Stars of the First People, Dorcas S Miller, p 225
Grizzly Bear Shoshone Website
Horned Head of Wild Animal Iroquois Book: Stars of the First People, Dorcas S Miller, p 72
The Arm / Elbow Stars Cherokee Book: Myths of the Cherokee, James Mooney
Long Sash’s Place of Doubt Tewa Website
Spirit’s Path / Road of Dead Ojibway Website

Asian Star Groups (10):

Star Group Translation Source Completed
Tien Ta Tsaeng Heaven’s Great General (China) website
Kasah Shekesteh Broken Platter (Persia) website
Arye Lion (Hebrew) website
Mithuna Boy and Girl (India) website
Tien Ching Celestial Balance (China) website
Al Babadur The Strong One (Arabian) website
Te Te The 2 Groups (Akkadian) website
Chang Jin The Old Folks (China) website
Al Rakis Dancer (Arabian) website
Acvini Horse or Horseman website

Central and South American Star Groups (5):

Star Group Translation Source Completed
Colca Shepherd (Peru) website or website
Tzab Rattlesnake’s Tail (Aztec) website
Ac Ek Turtle (Mayan) website
Citlaltlachtli Ballcourt (Aztec) website
Urcuchillay Llama (Inca) website

African Star Groups (5):

Flock of Birds (Sotho)PDF File

Star Group Translation Source Completed
Monius Water (Egypt) PDF File
Flock of Birds
Meant Sky Figure (Egypt) PDF File
dintsa le Dikolobe 3 Dogs Chasing 3 Pigs (Tswana) Website
IsiLimela Digging Stars (Xhosa) PDF File

Australian Star Groups (5) (Note: only a portion of some of these are visible in the north):

Star Group Translation Source Completed
Emu Emu (Gurangai) Website
Julpan Canoe (Yolngu) Website
Maya-Mayi Sisters (Wurundjeri) Website
Woodliparri House River (Yolngu) Website
Forbidden Fish (Yolngu) Website

Pacific Islanders Star Groups (5):

Star Group Translation Source Completed
Moroporo Boiling Lights (Philippines) Website
Ke Kā o Makali‘i Canoe Bailer (Hawaii) Website
Ha’amonga Sun Gate (Tonga) Website
Ka Makau Nui o Māui Big Fishhook (Hawaii) Website
Matariki Eyes of God (Maori) Website

Additional Exercises:

  1. Do you have a star group or groups that you enjoy that is not one of the “official” constellations? If so, sketch them on the observing form (remember to complete all required data), and answer these questions:
    1. Do you associate the star group with any date or season, or memory of its “discovery” by you?
    2. What does the figure look like (e.g. horse, king, spoon, etc.)?
    3. Do you have a story or anecdote you would like to share about this star group?
  2. Sketch the following on the provided log sheet (none of the usual data is required, other than your name):
    1. The Sun is an average star, so it is not seen as spectacularly bright from other star systems as in our sky. But, assuming you could see it, and you were on a planet at the following stars, where would the Sun appear in your sky, and how would the official constellation it is “in” change from what we see here? For simplicity, assume all the other stars stay in the same relative place.
      1. Alpha Centauri
      2. Deneb
      3. Betelgeuse
    2. 12,000 years ago, at the dawn of agriculture, the precession of the equinoxes not only gave us a different North Pole Star (Vega) but caused some of the constellations we see easily now to be invisible from around 40 deg N latitude. For simplicity, ignore any changes that may have occurred over the centuries due to star proper motion.
      1. Name 2 official or alternate constellations we see now that were probably hard to see then, and sketch the southern horizon at their highest point, including both groups in the sketch
      2. Name 2 official or alternate constellations we have difficulty seeing now that would have been easy then, and repeat the sketching exercise for those 2 groups
      3. Given this, are there any alternate, official or non-European groups that make more sense if we consider that they may have been “discovered” long ago? If so, name it and indicate (with a separate sketch) how it looked at its highest point 12,000 years ago.
Alternate Constellation Observing Program Coordinator:

Brad Young
212 E. 16th St.
Tulsa OK USA 74119
(918) 629 9160

Return to the main page for the Alternate Constellation Observing Program.

Scroll to top