Zodiac Constellations - Quiz

Zodiac Constellations - Quiz
The zodiac constellations are the oldest ones. The zodiac is a narrow band of sky centered on the ecliptic, the path that the Sun seems to take as Earth completes its annual orbit.

How well do you know the 12 zodiac constellations? Will you test your knowledge? For each description, choose from the three names given. You can then check your answers, and also find out a bit more about the constellations.

Quiz: The constellations
  1. Its two brightest stars are Castor and Pollux: (A) Pisces; (B) Gemini; (C) Virgo

  2. Orion the hunter bragged that he could kill any living thing, but this creature killed him: (A) Leo; (B) Taurus; (C) Scorpius

  3. “Zodiac” is from the Greek, meaning circle of animals, but this constellation doesn't represent a living thing: (A) Libra; (B) Cancer; (C) Aquarius

  4. A constellation that's often linked with an agricultural goddess: (A) Virgo; (B) Aries; (C) Libra

  5. It represents the disguise the god Zeus adopted to seduce Europa: (A) Sagittarius; (B) Libra; (C) Taurus

  6. Three zodiac constellations are related to water – this one represents two fish: (A) Aquarius; (B) Pisces; (C) Cancer

  7. The animal was revered by the ancient Egyptians, but in Greek mythology it was a fearsome beast that the hero Heracles killed: (A) Leo; (B) Taurus; (C) Capricornus

  8. It represents the creature whose golden fleece Jason and the Argonauts sought: (A) Aries; (B) Capricornus; (C) Leo

  9. This constellation contains the Teapot asterism: (A) Scorpius; (B) Gemini; (C) Sagittarius

  10. It's been represented as a goat with a fish tail since the Bronze Age: (A) Pisces; (B) Capricornus; (C) Aries
Answers and notes

1. Its two brightest stars are Castor and Pollux: (B) Gemini
Castor and Pollux were twin brothers. Although Pollux, a son of Zeus, was immortal, his beloved brother Castor was not. When Castor died, Pollux was distraught and begged his father's help. Zeus put them in the sky, and there they remain together.

2. Orion the hunter bragged that he could kill any living thing, but this creature killed him: (C) Scorpius
Orion's pride annoyed some of the gods who sent a scorpion to attack him. Zeus put both Orion and the scorpion in the sky. However he kept them well apart, so they're not seen at the same time.

3. “Zodiac” is from the Greek, meaning circle of animals, but this constellation doesn't represent a living thing: (A) Libra
Libra is a weighing scale or balance. It became a constellation in Roman times. Before then it was an asterism known as the scorpion's claws. (An asterism is a recognized pattern of stars that's part of one or more constellations.)

4. A constellation that's often linked with an agricultural goddess: (A) Virgo
For three thousand years, the stars of Virgo have been associated with agriculture. She's often depicted with a palm frond and a sheaf of wheat. The autumnal equinox occurs in Virgo.

5. It represents the disguise the god Zeus adopted to seduce Europa: (C) Taurus
In mythology Europa was the king of Tyre's daughter. Zeus gained her trust as a handsome and tame white bull before swimming away with her to Crete. Taurus includes two bright star clusters, the Pleiades (Seven Sisters), and the Hyades which outline the bull's face. (Photo: Jerry Lodriguss)

6. Three zodiac constellations are related to water – this one represents two fish:(B) Pisces
To the ancient Greeks, Pisces was the Great Fish which swallowed the water that Aquarius poured. But later Pisces became two fish. They're Aphrodite and Eros who turned themselves into fish to escape a sea monster, tying themselves together so they didn't lose each other. Piscis Austrinus (southern fish) is a southern constellation.

7. The animal was revered by the ancient Egyptians, but in Greek mythology it was a fearsome beast that the hero Heracles killed: (B) Leo
Even 6000 years ago, Leo represented a lion. Leo was an important constellation to the Egyptians because the annual Nile floods occurred when the Sun was in Leo. But Greek myth isn't favorable to Leo – killing the vile Nemean lion was the first labor of Heracles.

8. It represents the creature whose golden fleece Jason and the Argonauts sought: (A) Aries
Aries had represented a ram long before Greek mythology associated the constellation with the golden winged ram. For the Egyptians, Aries represented the god Amon-Ra depicted as a man with a ram's head.

9. This constellation contains the Teapot asterism: (C) Sagittarius
Usually, Sagittarius is shown as a centaur with a drawn bow, but it looks more like a teapot. You may be able to see a dense bit of the Milky Way looking like steam rising from the spout. The center of the Milky Way is in Sagittarius.

10. It's been represented as a goat with a fish tail since the Bronze Age: (B) Capricornus
Capricornus is the smallest zodiac constellation, and despite its faintness, the goat-fish has one of the oldest mythological associations. The December solstice used to occur in Capricornus, but because of the wobble in Earth's axis, it's now in Sagittarius.

How did you do?
Did you get most of the answers right? If not, would you do better next time from what you've learned? Click on “Join the discussion” to comment, see what other people say, or find out what's new.



You Should Also Read:
What Are Constellations
ABC of Astronomy – E Is for Ecliptic
Constellations

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