as·​ter·​ism | \ ˈa-stə-ˌri-zəm How to pronounce asterism (audio) \

Definition of asterism

1a : a group of stars that form a pattern in the night sky On October evenings, when the trees have shed their leaves and stars become visible through the twigs, our best-known asterism, the Big Dipper, passes under the north pole.— George Lovi

Note: The term asterism does not now usually refer to a constellation but to a star pattern that makes up part of a constellation or that includes stars from more than one constellation.

b : a small group of stars
2 : a star-shaped figure exhibited by some crystals by reflected light (as in a star sapphire) or by transmitted light (as in some mica)

Examples of asterism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web See below for advice on how to easily find that asterism. Jamie Carter, Forbes, 10 Oct. 2021 The Winter Football is not an official constellation but is instead called an asterism. Dean Regas, The Enquirer, 10 Mar. 2021 And, of course, Ursa Major the Greater Bear – which contains theBig Dipper asterism– is one of the most famous of all star patterns. Todd Nelson, Star Tribune, 16 Jan. 2021 This week in the night sky Winter Hexagon: One of the sky’s largest asterisms—a recognizable pattern of stars separate from a constellation figure—dominates the eastern sky this time of the year. National Geographic, 29 Jan. 2020 Specifically, the shooting stars will seem to come from just to the left of the bowl of the Big Dipper, the popular asterism that makes up part of Ursa Minor. Andrew Fazekas, National Geographic, 20 Dec. 2019 Look carefully below the cosmic pair for the bright asterism known as the Cosmic Teapot. Andrew Fazekas, National Geographic, 1 Sep. 2019 An asterism is simply a set of stars that form a pattern familiar to the human eye as part of a larger group of stars. National Geographic, 18 Jan. 2016 In this case the asterism is made up of stars from the constellations Libra, Virgo, Centaurus, and Triangulum Australe. National Geographic, 18 Jan. 2016 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'asterism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of asterism

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for asterism

Greek asterismos, from asterizein to arrange in constellations, from aster-, astēr

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The first known use of asterism was in 1598

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Cite this Entry

“Asterism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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