WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2017
as•ter•ism  (astə riz′əm),USA pronunciation n. 
  1. [Astron.]
    • a group of stars.
    • a constellation.
  2. [Mineral.]a property of some crystallized minerals of showing a starlike luminous figure in transmitted light or, in a cabochon-cut stone, by reflected light.
  3. three asterisks (&astlowastast;
    or &lowastastlowast;
    ) printed to draw attention to a passage it precedes.
as′ter•ismal, adj. 
  • Greek asterism(ós) a marking with stars. See asterisk, -ism
  • 1590–1600

Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

asterism /ˈæstəˌrɪzəm/ n
  1. three asterisks arranged in a triangle (⁂ or ???), to draw attention to the text that follows
  2. a cluster of stars, which may be a subset or a superset of a constellation
Etymology: 16th Century: from Greek asterismos arrangement of constellations, from astēr star

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