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When you name a star, you are actually engaging in an activity that goes back thousands of years. In fact, many of history's prominent cultures engaged in stargazing, all the while labeling and tracking celestial bodies.
Many believe that the ancient Sumerians were among the first the name the stars. Archeologists have found clay tablets that appear to track the stars across the sky. The ancient Babylonians also engaged in a bit of primitive astronomy, going so far as to establish constellations named after mythological and religious entities. The ancient Chinese and Egyptians also tracked and named stars.
However, many of our modern constellation names come from Greek and Roman mythology. As far as individual star names are concerned, astronomers refer to individual stars by catalog number and/or astronomical coordinates, but use common star names for major stars such as the North Star and Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|