Constellations get rebrand to get kids excited about space

Usain Bolt's constellation.

Constellation rebrand hopes to get kids excited about space

New constellations based on modern-day inspirational figures have been created in a bid to get more children interested in the universe.

The Big Bang Fair has partnered with astronomers at University of Birmingham to create ‘Look Up To The Stars’: a new set of constellations representing icons from sport, entertainment, science and activism to inspire children today.

The new star constellations are based on JK Rowling, Usain Bolt, Malala Yousafzai, Sir David Attenborough and Mo Farah – among others

The constellations were created after research revealed that classical constellations based on the zodiac and ancient mythological figures are not inspiring today’s children to look up to the night sky

The study found that 72% of children have never looked up at the night sky to find a star constellation, and 29% wouldn’t be able to recognise a single classical constellation when shown them.

Many of the 88 existing constellations officially recognised by the International Astronomical Union are based on the zodiac and figures from ancient Greek and Roman mythology, but these figures aren’t piquing children’s’ interest in the cosmos.  

The new constellations created by researchers include Harry Potter’s glasses to represent JK Rowling, a tennis racket for Serena Williams, a spacecraft for astronaut Tim Peake, a blue whale for Sir David Attenborough, and a book in honour of Malala Yousafzai.

Sir Mo Farah has been immortalised in the form of an ‘M’ shape constellation after his renowned ‘Mobot’ celebration, while fellow athlete Usain Bolt is celebrated through a pattern of stars that resembles his own celebratory lightning-bolt stance.

The new constellations are the work of experts at the University of Birmingham’s Astronomy Society.

The process of developing the new constellations involved a careful analysis of star maps for different regions of the sky by researchers.

Emma Willett, who led the University of Birmingham research team, said: “It was an honour to work alongside The Big Bang Fair to develop a new set of constellations for the modern day to encourage children today to look up to the stars.

“We really hope these new creations will help people of all ages develop their interest in space and astronomy, working to inspire the next generation of astronomers to take an interest in the field.”

Beth Elgood, director of communications at EngineeringUK, who organise The Big Bang Fair, said: “Stargazing is a great way to spark young people's interest in the universe and inspire them to find out more.

“Inspiration is at the heart of The Big Bang Fair, where young visitors, their teachers and parents have the chance to get hands-on with engaging STEM activities, workshops and shows and discover where science and maths could take them in the future.”

Below is a list of the new constellations, the directions you can find them in, and the time of year that they are most visible.

1.     Malala Yousafza (Book) – North (NNW) – February (Winter)

2.     JK Rowling (Harry Potter’s glasses) – North (NE) – March (Spring)

3.     Sir David Attenborough (Whale) – North (NNE) – April (Spring)

4.     Tim Peake (Spacecraft) – East (ESE) – April (Spring)

5.     Sir Mo Farah (Mobot) – East (ENE) – June (Summer)

6.     Serena Williams (Tennis Racket) – North (NW) – September (Summer)

7.     Usain Bolt (Lightning bolt celebration) – East (E) – November (Autumn)

8.     Sir Michael Bond (Paddington Bear) – East (E) – December (Winter)