Q:

What are fixed groups of stars like Ursa Major, Orion and Andromeda called?

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Quick Answer

Fixed groups of stars are constellations. Constellation names are often given based on an object that the stars resemble when grouped. The names are subjective, such as Orion the Hunter. Though the stars in constellations appear close together, many stars within a constellation are great distances away from each other.

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Full Answer

There are 88 official constellations in the night sky. Many constellations have names derived from Ancient Greek mythology. Other constellations have names from Roman mythology and signs of the Zodiac. Groupings of stars that do not have official recognition but are still recognized by common knowledge, such as the Big Dipper, are called asterisms.

The stars within a constellation have a ranking based on the brightness of the star, using the Greek alphabet. The alpha star is the brightest star.

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