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A star is a luminous celestial body. Stars are giant balls of burning gazes, that emit light into the space. They can be seen in the sky, at night, because, during the day, they're hidden by the much brighter Sun. Most of the stars are so far away from us that they can be seen only as tiny points; but one them, the Sun is much closer. It lights and warms the Earth.
A group of numerous stars is called a galaxy: all the stars that can be seen with the naked eye in the sky belong to the same galaxy, the closest, our galaxy, the Milky Way, to which the Solar System also belongs.
Myths and beliefs[edit | edit source]
Very soon, the stars, as tiny points seen in the sky, were venerated by humans, who tried to seek for an answer to their presence:
- in Ancient Egypt religion, Nut was the goddess of the starlit night sky.
- in Aztec religion, the Centzonhuitznahua were the 400 gods of the southern stars. Sons of Coatlicue and Mixcoatl, god of the stars and of the Milky Way. Lead by their sister, Coyolxauhqui, they tried to kill their mother, for having giving birth to Quetzalcoatl and Xolotl without their father, but were instead stained by Huitzilopotchli, the last son of Coatlicue, that birth at this moment.
- the Ancien Greeks tried to figure patterns in the disposition of the stars. They imagined drawings, called the constellations, that represented figures of the mythology : the Ursa major (Great Bear), for example, represents the nymph Callisto, lover of the god Zeus, and turned into a bear by the jealousy of his wife, Hera, while the Ursa minor (Little bear) represents her son, Arcas.
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