Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U...Is For Ursa Major

Ursa Major is also know as The Great Bear (Latin: larger bear)

It is a constellation visible in the Northern Hemisphere, throughout the year, and is best seen in April.

Ursa Major, The Great Bear

Ursa Major is the third largest constellation in our sky. What you may be more familiar with however, are the seven stars which make up the rump and tail of this animal. We know them as the Big Dipper, in the United Kingdom, they are known as the Plough.  Who knew that the big dipper is not a constellation? It is an asterism, which is a small easily recognizable formation that is usually part of a larger constellation? I sure didn't.


One Greek myth tells that the nymph Callisto, a servant of the hunter Artemis was made to bear a child by Zeus. Artemis banished Callisto for impurity. Artemis gave birth to the child named Arcas. 

This made Zeus' wife Hera very jealous and in revenge, Hera turned Callisto into a bear which ran away into the forest. Arcas grew up to become a hunter. One day while he was hunting, the bear Callisto heard Arcas' voice and rushed to greet her son. 

Arcas, not knowing the bear was his mother was about to kill her when Zeus intervened and sent both mother and son into the sky as the Greater and Lesser Bears. The way Zeus got the bears into the sky explains why their tails are so long, apparently Zeus grabbed them by their tails and swung them around over his head and finally flung them into the sky, and that is why these two bears have long tails!

Have you ever gazed into the sky and wondered how our constellations got their names?  Or better yet, have you made up your own stories about how they got their names?

I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. I believe in love even when I feel it not. I believe in God even when He is silent. *Written on a wall in a concentration camp*

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© 2012 Shannon M. King. This publication is the exclusive property of Shannon M. King and is protected under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. The contents of this post/story may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without consent of the author, Shannon M. King. All rights reserved.


Lynn Proctor said...

i haven't made any up myself--but that sounds like a great creative writing exercise!

Rob-bear said...

I don't know so much about my name. I'm just a Bear, with ancestors in the heavens.

Rob-bear said...
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