Constellations are useful for navigation and for researchers to easily find specific stars in the night sky, according to Cornell University's Department of Astronomy. In addition to navigational uses, other historical uses of constellations involved ancient religions and agriculture.
The constellation Ursa Minor contains the North Star, according to Cornell University. The North Star is the most important star for navigation at night, explains the Appalachian Mountain Club. The constellation Cassiopeia is opposite of the North Star. The middle star in Cassiopeia takes a wanderer directly to the North Star. Behind the North Star is south, to the right of the North Star is east and to the left of the North Star is west.
The U.S. Army and Navy use 57 different constellations for navigation in their respective almanacs, according to the U.S. Navy. Researchers also use constellations to discuss specific stars and other elements in space, according to Cornell University. Instead of using the scientific name and number for a star, a researcher pinpoints a star within a constellation while speaking about research at conferences. This allows more people to follow along with scientists and is useful for the general public.
Constellations also provided religious meaning for ancient societies. Contemporary belief maintained that the gods lived in the constellations and told stories through the designs. Ancient farmers also used the constellations to determine planting seasons. The position of certain constellations throughout the year signaled to the farmers the timing of the seasons.