From the October 2017 issue

A fishy tale in the fall sky

Pisces will never be the same.
By | Published: October 3, 2017 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
Pisces the Fish is a peculiar constellation. At least it’s odd in the way star charts depict it in a connect-the-dots fashion.

Most show the famous western Circlet of stars (easily imagined as a fish), attached to a wide V-shaped cord with a dim kink of stars on the northeastern end. That part resembles a diamond-shaped fish halved lengthwise. Such a depiction just doesn’t cut it because something seems missing.

Al-Sufi’s fishes

The problem with modern depictions of constellations is they show us, as best they can, figures that fit within established boundaries imposed by an international committee. This forces celestial cartographers to “stay within the lines.” But constellations were imagined long before these boundaries existed and without any constraints.

Astronomy magazine subscribers can read the full article for free. Just make sure you’re registered with the website.