asterism

noun as·ter·ism \ ˈas-tə-ˌri-zəm \
Updated on: 19 Nov 2017

Definition of asterism

1 a : 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)

Recent Examples of asterism from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of asterism

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


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