2356: Constellation Monstrosity

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Constellation Monstrosity
It's rare to get both astronomers and astrologers equally mad at you, but apparently I've messed up both a bunch of star location databases AND the will of the fates.
Title text: It's rare to get both astronomers and astrologers equally mad at you, but apparently I've messed up both a bunch of star location databases AND the will of the fates.


Constellations in the night sky are formed by pattern-forming various asterisms and other stellar relationships in the night sky. Being rather subjective, different cultures have inculcated differences in their interpretations, some subtle and others less so, for the exact same objective views of the night sky. Even where the same groupings are recognised, distinct cultures can 'see' different forms behind that group of stars. However, observers in the southern hemisphere will see entirely new constellations not visible to those in the northern one, and vice-versa, whilst observing those patterns fully visible to both (on the ecliptic) as inverted and therefore may inspire vastly different conceptualised images or even connectivities. The International Astronomical Union has demarcated the sky into 88 constellations, mostly those known to ancient Greece (catalogued by Ptolemy) plus southern constellations designated by astronomers during the European Renaissance.

Randall has taken one particular zodiac (or at least part of the hellenic one, closely tied to western astrology and still inspiring astronomical naming) and imagined further lines connecting stars to link up four separate constellations, to create a portmanteau constellation with a portmanteau name. In fact, this connection is half true, since Libra used to be the two claws of a much larger Scorpio, the larger constellation having been split in two when the twelve zodiac signs were set as they are now.

The four constellations used here are Scorpio (the scorpion), Libra (the scales), Virgo (the virgin/maiden) and Leo (the lion), sequentially spread across the sky in positions relating to a span of astrological dates running 'backwards' from late November through to late July. The name Randall gave this meta-constellation, however, uses a different order to combine as "Virg(o, l)ibra(, )scorp(io & )leo". Possibly "Scorlibirgoleo", or a similar mash-up with the same source order, did not roll together nicely enough for his liking.

In reality, any apparent proximity of stars on the celestial sphere does not guarantee an actual proximity in the depths of space, either within or between constellations. Knock-on effects from this renaming would not change actual scientific understanding, but it could have a knock-on effect upon star catalogues and databases if this object regrouping forces so many incidental name changes to the current referencing system, which is why the astronomers are upset (as indicated in the title text). Similarly, astrology's conceit based upon four separate 'characters' and life-paths, arising from birth-signs and planetary transits across four distinct areas of the sky, would lose 'precision' if forced to accept a single symbolic area in their stead. Astrologers would be very upset because their work (interpreted charitably) is related to understanding the influences of the stars on life on Earth; they might be concerned that "crossing the stars" could lead to "disaster". It's not clear how Randall hoped to alter the practices of either group with his changes, but he was banned from the IAU for his efforts (not the first time this has happened). Randall previously mentioned being banned from the IAU in 541: TED Talk, but the reason stated in that comic was "redefinition of the 'planet' to include the IAU presidents' mom", so presumably he was reinstated and then banned again.

This is another comic containing red annotations over a complex and established structure. This monstrosity is reminiscent of the infamous 2009 Dutch horror film known as The Human Centipede, in which three humans are bound together such that their digestive systems are connected in sequence. In this image, the head of Virgo appears to be connected to the hindquarters of Leo, and likewise the mouthparts of Scorpio are fixed to the bottom of the "stand" of Libra. Libra's stand appears to go under Virgo's dress; to form a complete "celestial centipede", it should attach to Virgo's hindquarters, but judging by the connection between stars, it probably (mercifully) connects to her foot.


[Within a frame, a long title is written in a short arc above the drawn elements]
[Upon a background of astrological imagery merged in accord, basic point-and-line astronomical/astrological representations of Scorpio, Libra, Virgo and Leo are illustrated.]
[(Scorpio may be slightly rotated/translated for aesthetic reasons.)]
[Red lines have been added to link stars in adjacent constellations.]
[ Pi Scorpii(Bottom left connection) is connected to Upsilon Librae]
[...also Beta Scorpii(Top left connection) may be connected to Theta Librae]
[ Alpha Librae(Middle connection) is connected to Mu Virginis]
[ Nu Virginis(Right connection) is connected to Beta Leonis (better known as Denebola)]
[Caption below the frame]
I got kicked out of the International Astronomical Union for adding extra lines between the constellations to create a monstrosity.

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This is some human centipede sh*t. Constellation centipede? 22:53, 7 September 2020 (UTC)

Personally, I feel that its more akin to a Chimera than human centipede (urgh), considering how smoothly Virgo's body blends with Leo's hindquaters.I wish someone removed it.
I was sorely tempted to add this in myself, as a reference, but I thought I'd do the 'wholesome' stuff first, and only just decided to stop adding/changing my submissions for a while in case I'm causing other people some edit-conflicts. (Someone may also want to wikilink the named constellations, perhaps say something about the greek-letter 'numbering' of constituent stars of a constellation that would run out of subsidiary names in this meta-constellation, etc, which are other things I was thinking about.) So, if you really feel like it needs mentioning, you are of course at liberty to fill your boots accordingly. 23:44, 7 September 2020 (UTC)
Stellar Centipede (it was the first association that came to my mind - and I didn't even watch that movie...) Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 14:57, 9 September 2020 (UTC)

This could be referencing how NASA recently mentioned a 13th start sign Ophiuchus, https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/starfinder2/en/ especially because it is placed prior to Scorpio/Libra/Virgo/Leo

The International Astronomical Union calls the constellation "Scorpius" (https://www.iau.org/public/themes/constellations/#sco).

But they probably don't officially recognise the actual picture of a scorpion, so perhaps it's at least as valid to reference the not-quite-identical astrological grouping by name. 12:27, 8 September 2020 (UTC)

He'd already been kicked out of the IAU in 541: TED Talk. How did he regain admission?

There's a starman waiting in the sky, he'd like to come and meet us but he thinks he'd blow our minds. There's a starman waiting in the sky. He's told us not to blow it 'cause he knows it's all worthwhile... 12:27, 8 September 2020 (UTC)

This is probably in part a reference to the fact that Zubenelgenubi, Zubeneschamali, and Zubenelhakrabi, while astronomically in Libra, are artistically and linguistically in the constellation Scorpio ("zuben" means "claw") 20:14, 8 September 2020 (UTC)

Ah, you beat me to it! As a teenager (sometime in the last century), I volunteered at a planetarium in New York City (no, not that one), where I learned the names of the stars in the claws of Scorpius that were cut off by the IAU and "given" to Libra. Mr. I (talk) 22:54, 8 September 2020 (UTC)

Does someone want to explain the title text? I've been awake to 04:00 every night doing homework and I don't really feel up to it today. bubblegum-talk|contribs 06:19, 9 September 2020 (UTC)

(You break proper page rendering, for me, with your unbroken lines of text. You considerately put in BRs, but that's still twice as wide as the usual frame for me - and I'm not even using a portrait view...)
a) Astronomers have loads of stars like Denebola that are catagorically listed as things like "β-Leonis" (for the most visible, and Flamstead/Gould numbers for others), which now need reindexing under this new grouping name (F/G numbers can stay the same, but the greek-index would be necessarily be shuffled, as you can't suddenly have four separate βs, even if you're happy differentiating a single letter when it actually turns out to be an N-ary system or coincidental in-line occultation). It'd not be inconceivable to add a "Munroe Id" field to every electronic database and treat the 'old' β-Leonis as non-classification name like Denebola, but it's a fuss that has no real advantages compared to the effort of the undertaking.
b) Astrologers have a similar issue. "You're a typical Leo!", they may say currently, perhaps even "...on the cusp with Virgo", in establishing someone's link to the progression and precession of the heavens. A "fire" sign. With such'n'such 'planets' (includes Moon and Sun) passing into and out of it to establish subtle elements of Destiny. So if you merge them, this new sign (built up of air, earth fire and water signs, what is it now... a ventilation brick?) now has to encompass ~33.3% of people (rather than ~8.3% of everybody, as now) and, at least at the upper levels of astrological 'calculation', has the same planets influencing all of them equally, meaning far more people finding it simultaneously profitable to look for a new job/love, take care of their money/health, share/retain an unspecified secret, etc. And they'd have to pad out the columns in the paper with nine (or three?) star-signs in the space they once had twelve. Probably have to tack on some totally nonsensical cold-reading generic bullshit, or something!
But how to say this neatly in the Explanation, that which aint already there, I wouldn't know. 08:52, 9 September 2020 (UTC)
Sorry. bubblegum-talk|contribs 00:57, 10 September 2020 (UTC)

That reminds me of my favorite future ad: "Don't let Covid-15426 keep you holed up in your quarantine bunker. Cruise the stars in your 3020 Thundercougarfalconbird!" These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 06:21, 13 September 2020 (UTC)