NURSERY OF STARS: An example of a nebula.
NURSERY OF STARS: An example of a nebula. Contributed

DARK SKIES: Wonder how stars get their names?

FOR thousands of centuries, human eyes have looked up to the night skies and seen millions of stars, some brighter, some fainter.

Many ancient tribes believed bright stars were the eyes of demons, devils, eyes of the dead and other ancient beliefs.

These early tribes drew what they saw at night - comets, meteors (aka 'shooting' or 'falling' stars) and stars, grouped into patterns we call constellations.

The Greek philosopher, astronomer and mathematician, Hipparchus (190-120BC), founder using an astrolabe drew up basic star charts, giving each star a Greek letter, based on its naked eye magnitude (brightness) - Alpha the brightest, to Omega the faintest.

To this very day, every star has a Greek letter used on every star chart. Babylonians, Persians and Mesopotamians gave names to stars, many of which are are still in use today.

An example of a globular cluster.
MAIN: An example of a globular cluster. INSET TOP: A galaxy. INSET BOTTOM: An open cluster. Contributed

While it's true to say there are 'more stars in galaxy than grains of sand on beach' and more galaxies in the universe than sand grains on this planet, up to 75 per cent of all the stars you see at night may not actually exist.

This is because what we see now, those stars may have already burnt out tens of thousands of year ago.

Astronomer Professor Brian Cox once said: "What we have yet to see is millions of new stars in our Milky Way galaxy and other galaxies to appear. When will this happen is unknown, as Space and time is endless."

An example of a galaxy.
An example of a galaxy. Contributed

August Constellations: Between 7-10pm from the East to West is Aquarius, Capricorn, Sagittarius, Scorpio, Libra, Virgo and Leo. In the South is the Southern Cross and the 'Pointer Stars' - Alpha and Beta Centauri, Lepus the Wolf and Carina. Every one of them have open star clusters - young hot stars all held within each other's gravity. Some have defined shapes like a 'Butterfly' while the 'Jewel Box' in the Southern Cross has a red, green and yellow star.

Nebula: Glowing clouds if cosmic dust, called 'Stellar Nurseries' that form stars, from its dust, Hydrogen, Helium, Oxygen and other gases within.

Globular Clusters: Millions of stars all clumped together to form a huge maze of stars. Binary Stars: Twin stars that orbit each other.

An example of an open cluster.
An example of an open cluster. Contributed

Galaxies: 'Island Universes' millions of light years away. One light year is 9.5 trillion kilometres. Our nearest galaxy is 2.2 million light years.

Stars: Alpha and Beta Centauri; Acrux - foot star of the Southern Cross; Archenar-Alpha Eridanus; Antares-Alpha Scorpio; Spica-Alpha Virgo; Altair-Alpha Aquila; Vega-Alpha Cygnus and Arcturus-Alpha Bootes, to name a few.

Planets: Venus in Leo west after sunset, Jupiter high above in Libra, Saturn in Sagittarius and Mars in Capricorn.