INCREDIBLE SIGHT: Autumn and winter are the best times for stargazing.
INCREDIBLE SIGHT: Autumn and winter are the best times for stargazing. James Barclay

DARK SKIES: Myths and legends explored

FOR thousands of centuries the night skies have bewildered human curiosity.

During those early times, many looked up and wondered, what are those glittering dots in the night sky? Are they the eyes of angels, devils or gods?

While many tribes and clans had their own beliefs, none could understand what they were or how they got there, let alone why they formed patterns or shapes and why every three months those familiar patterns would set in the west and new ones appear in the east.

No one knew back then that the world was round nor that it was a planet that orbits a star - the sun.

From these uncertainties mythology was born, which was passed down from one generation to the next, inflaming ignorance and superstition.

Astronomers now call these patterns of stars constellations and while there are 88 of them evenly spread over both hemispheres, in ancient times every land had a different name for the same thing.

SOUTHERN NIGHT SKIES CONSTELLATIONS

March 1 - June 1: Leo, Crater, Hydra, Corvus, Crux, Centaurus, Musca, Libra, Lupus, Norma, Apus and Triangulum Australe.

June 1 - Sept 1: Scorpio, Serpens, Ara, Corona Australe, Scutum, Sagittarius, Telescopium, Pavo, Aquila, Sagitta, Microscopium, Capricornus, Indus, Aquarius, Piscis Austrinus and Grus.

Sept 1 - Dec 1: Pegasus, Tucana, Sculptor, Pisces, Phoenix, Cetus, Hydrus, Aries, Fornax, Eridanus, Horologium, Reticulum, Taurus.

Dec 1 - March 1: Orion, Lepus, Mensa, Pictor, Dorado, Columba, Canis Majoris, Gemini, Monoceros, Puppis, Canis Minor, Volans, Cancer, Carina, Vela, Sextans, Antila.

This makes 62 out of 88, which is why our skies have the most to offer astronomers.

The best time to stargaze is in winter when the skies are more stable and clear of dust and clouds.

If you want to book a stargazing night at the observatory, email mao123@bigpond.com, phone 0427 961 391 or visit the website, www.kingaroy observatory.com.