Welcome to the NavList Message Boards.


A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding

Compose Your Message

Add Images & Files
    Re: How do you memorise the stars' names?
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2017 Feb 26, 12:55 -0800

    Tony Oz, you wrote:
    "I was able to learn the Morse code only when I was introduced to the method of connecting a character's melody with a word beginning on the same character and having same rythm."

    I have never managed to learn more than a few letters in Morse. As a kid, I learned SOS, of course. I also learned "V" long ago, using the same "melody" trick you describe, from its association with the opening notes of Beethoven's 5th, which was made popular in Britain and in the resistance movements in Europe during the Second World War: "dit dit dit daaah". 

    You concluded:
    "So I'm searching for the same thing on star's names and positions."

    Yeah. There isn't much. I thought of one more though. You know "follow the arc to Arcturus" already. Have you heard "speed on to Spica"? That's a continuation of the same curve so the full mnemonic is "follow the arc to Arcturus and then speed on to Spica"). Some navigators like that one, but it never did much for me. I also mentioned the alphabetic ordering of the Gemini twins. That ordering rule applies to the whole "arc of Capella" as we used to call it: Capella, Castor, Pollux, Procyon, and Sirius make a big curve around Orion, and it helps a bit that they're all in (English) alphabetical order. You could throw in Aldebaran at the beginning before Capella, for good measure. But that's about as good as it gets.

    I think most people learn the star names by reading about the stars and making associations. For example, Capella is the "goat star" and has three little stars nearby known as the "kids" (baby goats), and the name itself is directly derived from Latin "capra" for "goat". Though I have no other associations for "capra" as goat, once you know all three of these things, the name Capella becomes more memorable. Similarly, the name Arcturus can be made more memorable by noticing the "arctic" in it and remembering that it's a reference to the nearby bear in the sky (the arctic regions are named for the great bear). And if you know that "Ares" was the Greek version of Mars, then the name Antares as the "kin of Mars", often described, probably erroneously, as the "rival of Mars", makes more sense and becomes more memorable. So as far as learning the names goes, I think reading up on the stories behind the stars is your best bet. You could also watch lots and lots of goofy science fiction. Common star names turn up regularly in science fiction. I know for a fact that I first learned the star name Zubenelgenubi watching an episode of "Lost in Space" when I was young (Google knows). I have never found that bit of trivia useful except to amuse people with an exotic Arabic star name, and I have never once used that star in navigation. But that's where I learned it!

    Frank Reed

    Browse Files

    Drop Files


    What is NavList?

    Join NavList

    (please, no nicknames or handles)
    Do you want to receive all group messages by email?
    Yes No

    You can also join by posting. Your first on-topic post automatically makes you a member.

    Posting Code

    Enter the email address associated with your NavList messages. Your posting code will be emailed to you immediately.

    Email Settings

    Posting Code:

    Custom Index

    Start date: (yyyymm dd)
    End date: (yyyymm dd)

    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site