The Ursa Major Constellation
Ursa Major or also known as the Great Bear is the largest constellation in the northern hemisphere’s sky. It is the third-largest out of the 88 constellations in the sky.
The name is Latin meaning greater she-bear. Ursa Major is the greater or larger bear because it is contrasted with the nearby Ursa Minor, also known as the lesser bear.
Ursa Major is one of the original 48 constellations listed by Ptolemy in the second century CE. The brightest stars in this constellation form the Big Dipper or also known as the Plough. This asterism in Ursa Major is one of the most recognizable shapes in the sky.
The flag of Alaska contains the image of the Big Dipper along with the Polaris star.
The Big Dipper asterism in Ursa Major.
Ursa Major Constellation Details:
- Symbolism: The Great Bear
- Brightest star: Alioth
- Number of stars (Total): 135
- Size: 1280 sq. deg. (3rd largest)
- Right Ascension: 10.67h
- Declination: +55.38°
Ursa Major’s Prominent Stars
Ursa Major contains a number of prominent stars. This constellation is primarily known from the asterism of its main seven stars, the Big Dipper:
Big Dipper Stars:
Although this part of the constellation represents the Great Bear’s hind legs and tail, these bright stars form the popping image of a ladle. This asterism has two bright stars that can be used as a navigational pointer. These two stars are Dubhe and Merak. They point to the location of the current northern pole star, Polaris.
Polaris is the north star that is located in the Ursa Minor constellation. Dubhe is also referred to as Alpha Ursae Majoris. Dubhe is an orange giant star around 120 light-years from Earth. It is the second brightest star in the constellation with a magnitude of 1.79.
Dubhe is the 35th brightest star in the sky. Merak is also known as Ursae Majoris. It is a white star with a magnitude of 2.37. That is around three times the mass and radius of our sun.
Merak also has surface temperatures that are roughly twice as hot as our sun.
The Alkaid star, or also called Eta Ursae Majoris, is the tip of the Great Bear’s tail. Or also seen as the tip of the Big Dipper’s handle. It is a bluish-white star. It has a magnitude of 1.85 and surface temperatures around 3 times hotter than our sun. Alkaid is the third brightest star of Ursa Major.
The second star from the end of the tail or handle is Mizar-Alcor or known as Zeta Ursae Majoris. It is the constellation’s fourth-brightest star. Mizar forms a famous double star, with its companion Alcor. The Arabs termed these two stars as the horse and rider. Among them, the ability to see these two stars with the naked eye was often considered a test of good eyesight.
The third star is Alioth, or also referred to as Epsilon Ursae Majoris. Alioth is the brightest star in the Ursa Major constellation. It is the 33rd brightest star in the sky, consisting of magnitude 1.76. It has a distance of around 80 light-years from Earth.
The Big Dipper as seen from my Bortle Scale Class 8 backyard.
The fourth star is Megrez or Delta Ursae Majoris. Megrez is located at the intersection of the body and tail of the bear or the ladle and handle of the dipper. It is a white star and is around 60 light-years from Earth.
After Megrez we have the star Dubhe, completing the top frame of the dipper. Merak is the star that outlines the bottom of the dipper. Phecda or also known as Gamma Ursae Majoris completes the bottom frame of the dipper. Phecda is a white star with a magnitude of 2.44.
Muscida is the star that is located at the head of the bear. This star is also known as Omicron Ursae Majoris. It is a yellow giant star with a distance of around 180 light-years from earth.
Talitha is the star located at the bear’s front legs. It is referred to as Lota Ursae Majoris. This star is a four-star system. It contains two pairs of binary stars that are roughly 45 light-years away from earth.
The remaining stars are located in the bear’s hind legs. These stars are known as the Tania Borealis, Tania Australis, Alula Borealis, and Alula Australis.
Tania Borealis is a white star that is about 140 light-years from the earth. Tania Australis is a red giant star around 240 light-years from earth.
The Alula Borealis is an orange giant with a distance of around 400 light-years from earth. Alula Australis is a four-star system. It consists of two pairs of binary stars. These stars are 30 light-years from our earth. The main stars in this system are like sun stars. The other ones are considered to be red dwarfs.
Deep-Sky Objects in Ursa Major
Ursa Major contains seven Messier objects that are located within and around the constellation. The most famous of these seven are the Pinwheel Galaxy, Bode’s Galaxy, the Cigar Galaxy, and the Owl Nebula.
The other three Messier objects are referred to as Messier 40 (M40, Winnecke 4), Messier 108 (M108, NGC 3556), and Messier 109 (M109, NGC 3992).
The Ursa Major constellation also contains 13 stars within it that are confirmed as planets. There are two meteor showers associated with the constellation; the Alpha Ursa Majorids and the Leonids-Ursids.
Ursa Major constellation belongs to the Ursa Major family of constellations. This family of constellations consists of Boötes, Camelopardalis, Canes Venatici, Coma Berenices, Corona Borealis, Draco, Leo Minor, Lynx, and Ursa Minor.
M81, M82, and NGC 3077 can be seen in this photo (view larger version).
M101, The Pinwheel Galaxy lies near the handle of the Big Dipper in Ursa Major.
Location in the Night Sky
Ursa Major is the third largest constellation in the sky. It occupies an area of 1280 square degrees.
Ursa Major is located in the second quadrant of the northern hemisphere. It can be seen at latitudes between +90° and -30°. The best time to see this constellation is in the spring. At this time Ursa Major is high above the north-eastern horizon.
The eight neighboring constellations to the Great Bear are Draco to the north and northeast. Boötes to the east. Canes Venatici to the east and southeast. Coma Berenices to the southeast.
Leo and Leo Minor to the south. Lynx to the southwest and Camelopardalis to the northwest. From southern temperate latitudes, the Big Dipper is unable to be seen. However, some of the southern parts of the constellation can be seen.
Ursa Major constellation map from the IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine.
Origin of the Great Bear
The Great Bear is one of the oldest constellations in the night sky. It can be dated back up to 13,000 years. It is mentioned in the Bible and also found in the works of the Greek author Homer.
In Greek mythology, the constellation is associated with the myth of Callisto. Callisto was the beautiful nymph who had sworn a vow of chastity to the goddess Artemis. One day Zeus saw the nymph and the two fell in love.
Artemis banished Callisto when she discovered that Callisto’s vow was broken. Zeus and Callisto had a son named Arcas.
However, it was Hera, a jealous wife of Zeus who turned Callisto into a bear.
Callisto lived as a bear for 15 years, until she came face to face with her son Arcas. Arcas quickly drew his spear but before he could attack Zeus intervened to prevent disaster. Zeus sent a whirlwind that lifted Callisto and Arcas into the heavens. Arcas became the constellation Boötes, or also known as the Herdsman. Callisto became Ursa Major.
Among the Greek myths there are different versions of this tale. Another asserts that it is Artemis who transforms Callisto into a bear as punishment for breaking her vow of chastity. Many years later, Callisto along with Arcas become captured in a forest.
They are imprisoned and taken to King Lycaon as a gift. However, the mother and son are able to escape and take refuge in the temple of Zeus. Not realizing that their trespassing is punishable by death, Zeus comes and intervenes to save them by placing them both in the sky.
The Ursa Major constellation is associated with several Greek and Roman myths. The Romans called the constellation Septentrio, or seven plough oxen.
However, only two of the seven stars represented the oxen, while the others formed a wagon.
In Hindu legend, the brightest stars represent the Seven Sages. The Hindus termed the constellation as Saptarshi. The sages are Bhrigu, Atri, Angirasa, Vasishta, Pulastya, Pulalaha and Kratu.
The ancient Chinese believed the seven bright stars represented Tseih Sing, the Government, or Pih Tow, the Northern Measure. In South Korea, the constellation is referred to as the Seven Stars of the North.
In some Native American stories, the three stars in the asterism’s handle of the dipper represented three warriors chasing a great bear. In recent American history, the Big Dipper was used in the Underground Railroad.
Its’ position in the sky helped slaves find their way north. Numerous songs spread among slaves in the south encouraging them to follow the ‘Drinking Gourd’ to find a better life.
In history, wanderers in the northern hemisphere used Polaris (located in Ursa Minor) to stay on course. The Big Dipper helped in locating the Polaris star (the North Star).
This is the star around which the whole northern celestial sphere appears to turn throughout the night. This is because Polaris is located nearly above Earth’s northern axis.
The following video will provide you with an excellent overview of the constellation Ursa Major. The host covers several interesting facts about the constellation as a whole, and the Big Dipper asterism within it.
Constellation in the northern celestial hemisphere
This article is about the constellation. For the pattern of stars (asterism), see Big Dipper. For other uses, see Ursa Major (disambiguation).
Ursa Major (; also known as the Great Bear) is a constellation in the northern sky, whose associated mythology likely dates back into prehistory. Its Latin name means "greater (or larger) she-bear," referring to and contrasting it with nearby Ursa Minor, the lesser bear. In antiquity, it was one of the original 48 constellations listed by Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD. Today it is the third largest of the 88 modern constellations.
Ursa Major is primarily known from the asterism of its main seven stars, which has been called the "Big Dipper," "the Wagon," "Charles's Wain," or "the Plough," among other names. In particular, the Big Dipper's stellar configuration mimics the shape of the "Little Dipper." Two of its stars, named Dubhe and Merak (α Ursae Majoris and β Ursae Majoris), can be used as the navigational pointer towards the place of the current northern pole star, Polaris in Ursa Minor.
Ursa Major, along with asterisms that incorporate or comprise it, is significant to numerous world cultures, often as a symbol of the north. Its depiction on the flag of Alaska is a modern example of such symbolism.
Ursa Major is visible throughout the year from most of the northern hemisphere, and appears circumpolar above the mid-northern latitudes. From southern temperate latitudes, the main asterism is invisible, but the southern parts of the constellation can still be viewed.
Ursa Major covers 1279.66 square degrees or 3.10% of the total sky, making it the third largest constellation. In 1930, Eugène Delporte set its official International Astronomical Union (IAU) constellation boundaries, defining it as a 28-sided irregular polygon. In the equatorial coordinate system, the constellation stretches between the right ascension coordinates of 08h 08.3m and 14h 29.0m and the declination coordinates of +28.30° and +73.14°. Ursa Major borders eight other constellations: Draco to the north and northeast, Boötes to the east, Canes Venatici to the east and southeast, Coma Berenices to the southeast, Leo and Leo Minor to the south, Lynx to the southwest and Camelopardalis to the northwest. The three-letter constellation abbreviation "UMa" was adopted by the IAU in 1922.
See also: List of stars in Ursa Major
The outline of the seven bright stars of Ursa Major form the asterism known as the "Big Dipper" in the United States and Canada, while in the United Kingdom it is called the Plough or (historically) Charles' Wain . Six of the seven stars are of second magnitude or higher, and it forms one of the best-known patterns in the sky. As many of its common names allude, its shape is said to resemble a ladle, an agricultural plough, or wagon. In the context of Ursa Major, they are commonly drawn to represent the hindquarters and tail of the Great Bear. Starting with the "ladle" portion of the dipper and extending clockwise (eastward in the sky) through the handle, these stars are the following:
- α Ursae Majoris, known by the Arabic name Dubhe ("the bear"), which at a magnitude of 1.79 is the 35th-brightest star in the sky and the second-brightest of Ursa Major.
- β Ursae Majoris, called Merak ("the loins of the bear"), with a magnitude of 2.37.
- γ Ursae Majoris, known as Phecda ("thigh"), with a magnitude of 2.44.
- δ Ursae Majoris, or Megrez, meaning "root of the tail," referring to its location as the intersection of the body and tail of the bear (or the ladle and handle of the dipper).
- ε Ursae Majoris, known as Alioth, a name which refers not to a bear but to a "black horse," the name corrupted from the original and mis-assigned to the similarly named Alcor, the naked-eye binary companion of Mizar. Alioth is the brightest star of Ursa Major and the 33rd-brightest in the sky, with a magnitude of 1.76. It is also the brightest of the chemically peculiarAp stars, magnetic stars whose chemical elements are either depleted or enhanced, and appear to change as the star rotates.
- ζ Ursae Majoris, Mizar, the second star in from the end of the handle of the Big Dipper, and the constellation's fourth-brightest star. Mizar, which means "girdle," forms a famous double star, with its optical companion Alcor (80 Ursae Majoris), the two of which were termed the "horse and rider" by the Arabs. The ability to resolve the two stars with the naked eye is often quoted[by whom?] as a test of eyesight, although even people with quite poor eyesight can see the two stars.
- η Ursae Majoris, known as Alkaid, meaning the "end of the tail". With a magnitude of 1.85, Alkaid is the third-brightest star of Ursa Major.
Except for Dubhe and Alkaid, the stars of the Big Dipper all have proper motions heading toward a common point in Sagittarius. A few other such stars have been identified, and together they are called the Ursa Major Moving Group.
The stars Merak (β Ursae Majoris) and Dubhe (α Ursae Majoris) are known as the "pointer stars" because they are helpful for finding Polaris, also known as the North Star or Pole Star. By visually tracing a line from Merak through Dubhe (1 unit) and continuing for 5 units, one's eye will land on Polaris, accurately indicating true north.
Another asterism known as the "Three Leaps of the Gazelle" is recognized in Arab culture. It is a series of three pairs of stars found along the southern border of the constellation. From southeast to southwest, the "first leap", comprising ν and ξ Ursae Majoris (Alula Borealis and Australis, respectively); the "second leap", comprising λ and μ Ursae Majoris (Tania Borealis and Australis); and the "third leap", comprising ι and κ Ursae Majoris, (Talitha Borealis and Australis respectively).
W Ursae Majoris is the prototype of a class of contact binaryvariable stars, and ranges between 7.75m and 8.48m.
47 Ursae Majoris is a Sun-like star with a three-planet system.47 Ursae Majoris b, discovered in 1996, orbits every 1078 days and is 2.53 times the mass of Jupiter.47 Ursae Majoris c, discovered in 2001, orbits every 2391 days and is 0.54 times the mass of Jupiter.47 Ursae Majoris d, discovered in 2010, has an uncertain period, lying between 8907 and 19097 days; it is 1.64 times the mass of Jupiter. The star is of magnitude 5.0 and is approximately 46 light-years from Earth.
The star TYC 3429-697-1 (9h 40m 44s 48° 14′ 2″), located to the east of θ Ursae Majoris and to the southwest of the "Big Dipper") has been recognized as the state star of Delaware, and is informally known as the Delaware Diamond.
Several bright galaxies are found in Ursa Major, including the pair Messier 81 (one of the brightest galaxies in the sky) and Messier 82 above the bear's head, and Pinwheel Galaxy (M101), a spiral northeast of η Ursae Majoris. The spiral galaxiesMessier 108 and Messier 109 are also found in this constellation. The bright planetary nebulaOwl Nebula (M97) can be found along the bottom of the bowl of the Big Dipper.
M81 is a nearly face-on spiral galaxy 11.8 million light-years from Earth. Like most spiral galaxies, it has a core made up of old stars, with arms filled with young stars and nebulae. Along with M82, it is a part of the galaxy cluster closest to the Local Group.
M82 is a nearly edgewise galaxy that is interacting gravitationally with M81. It is the brightest infrared galaxy in the sky.SN 2014J, an apparent Type Ia supernova, was observed in M82 on 21 January 2014.
M97, also called the Owl Nebula, is a planetary nebula 1,630 light-years from Earth; it has a magnitude of approximately 10. It was discovered in 1781 by Pierre Méchain.
M101, also called the Pinwheel Galaxy, is a face-on spiral galaxy located 25 million light-years from Earth. It was discovered by Pierre Méchain in 1781. Its spiral arms have regions with extensive star formation and have strong ultraviolet emissions. It has an integrated magnitude of 7.5, making it visible in both binoculars and telescopes, but not to the naked eye.
NGC 2787 is a lenticular galaxy at a distance of 24 million light-years. Unlike most lenticular galaxies, NGC 2787 has a bar at its center. It also has a halo of globular clusters, indicating its age and relative stability.
NGC 2950 is a lenticular galaxy located 60 million light-years from Earth.
NGC 3079 is a starburst spiral galaxy located 52 million light-years from Earth. It has a horseshoe-shaped structure at its center that indicates the presence of a supermassive black hole. The structure itself is formed by superwinds from the black hole.
NGC 3310 is another starburst spiral galaxy located 50 million light-years from Earth. Its bright white color is caused by its higher than usual rate of star formation, which began 100 million years ago after a merger. Studies of this and other starburst galaxies have shown that their starburst phase can last for hundreds of millions of years, far longer than was previously assumed.
NGC 4013 is an edge-on spiral galaxy located 55 million light-years from Earth. It has a prominent dust lane and has several visible star forming regions.
I Zwicky 18 is a young dwarf galaxy at a distance of 45 million light-years. The youngest-known galaxy in the visible universe, I Zwicky 18 is about 4 million years old, about one-thousandth the age of the Solar System. It is filled with star forming regions which are creating many hot, young, blue stars at a very high rate.
The Hubble Deep Field is located to the northeast of δ Ursae Majoris.
The Kappa Ursae Majorids are a newly discovered meteor shower, peaking between November 1 and November 10.
HD 80606, a sun-like star in a binary system, orbits a common center of gravity with its partner, HD 80607; the two are separated by 1,200 AU on average. Research conducted in 2003 indicates that its sole planet, HD 80606 b is a future hot Jupiter, modeled to have evolved in a perpendicular orbit around 5 AU from its sun. The 4-Jupiter mass planet is projected to eventually move into a circular, more aligned orbit via the Kozai mechanism. However, it is currently on an incredibly eccentric orbit that ranges from approximately one astronomical unit at its apoapsis and six stellar radii at periapsis.
Ursa Major has been reconstructed as an Indo-European constellation. It was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century AD astronomer Ptolemy in his Almagest, who called it Arktos Megale.[a] It is mentioned by such poets as Homer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Tennyson and also by Federico Garcia Lorca, in "Song for the Moon".Ancient Finnish poetry also refers to the constellation, and it features in the painting Starry Night Over the Rhône by Vincent van Gogh. It may be mentioned in the biblical book of Job, dated between the 7th and 4th centuries BC, although this is often disputed.
The constellation of Ursa Major has been seen as a bear, usually female, by many distinct civilizations. This may stem from a common oral tradition of Cosmic Hunt myths stretching back more than 13,000 years. Using statistical and phylogenetic tools, Julien d'Huy reconstructs the following Palaeolithic state of the story: "There is an animal that is a horned herbivore, especially an elk. One human pursues this ungulate. The hunt locates or get to the sky. The animal is alive when it is transformed into a constellation. It forms the Big Dipper."
In Roman mythology, Jupiter (the king of the gods) lusts after a young woman named Callisto, a nymph of Diana. Juno, Jupiter's jealous wife, discovers that Callisto has a son named Arcas, and believes it is by Jupiter. Juno then transforms the beautiful Callisto into a bear so she no longer attracts Jupiter. Callisto, while in bear form, later encounters her son Arcas. Arcas almost shoots the bear, but to avert the tragedy, Jupiter turns Arcas into a bear too and puts them both in the sky, forming Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. Callisto is Ursa Major and her son, Arcas, is Ursa Minor. An alternate version has Arcas become the constellation Boötes.
In ancient times the name of the constellation was Helike, ("turning"), because it turns around the Pole. In Book Two of Lucan it is called Parrhasian Helice, since Callisto came from Parrhasia in Arcadia, where the story is set.The Odyssey notes that it is the sole constellation that never sinks below the horizon and "bathes in the Ocean's waves," so it is used as a celestial reference point for navigation. It is also called the "Wain."
In Hinduism, Ursa Major is known as Saptarshi, each of the stars representing one of the Saptarshis or Seven Sages viz. Bhrigu, Atri, Angiras, Vasishtha, Pulastya, Pulaha and Kratu. The fact that the two front stars of the constellations point to the pole star is explained as the boon given to the boy sage Dhruva by Lord Vishnu.
One of the few star groups mentioned in the Bible (Job 9:9; 38:32; – Orion and the Pleiades being others), Ursa Major was also pictured as a bear by the Jewish peoples. "The Bear" was translated as "Arcturus" in the Vulgate and it persisted in the King James Bible.
East Asian traditions
In China and Japan, the Big Dipper is called the "North Dipper" 北斗 (Chinese: běidǒu, Japanese: hokuto), and in ancient times, each one of the seven stars had a specific name, often coming themselves from ancient China:
- "Pivot" 樞 (C: shū J: sū) is for Dubhe (Alpha Ursae Majoris)
- "Beautiful jade" 璇 (C: xuán J: sen) is for Merak (Beta Ursae Majoris)
- "Pearl" 璣 (C: jī J: ki) is for Phecda (Gamma Ursae Majoris)
- "Balance"權 (C: quán J: ken) is for Megrez (Delta Ursae Majoris)
- "Measuring rod of jade" 玉衡 (C: yùhéng J: gyokkō) is for Alioth (Epsilon Ursae Majoris)
- "Opening of the Yang" 開陽 (C: kāiyáng J: kaiyō) is for Mizar (Zeta Ursae Majoris)
- Alkaid (Eta Ursae Majoris) has several nicknames: "Sword" 劍 (C: jiàn J: ken) (short form from "End of the sword" 劍先 (C: jiàn xiān J: ken saki)), "Flickering light" 搖光 (C: yáoguāng J: yōkō), or again "Star of military defeat" 破軍星 (C: pójūn xīng J: hagun sei), because travel in the direction of this star was regarded as bad luck for an army.
In Shinto, the seven largest stars of Ursa Major belong to Amenominakanushi, the oldest and most powerful of all kami.
In South Korea, the constellation is referred to as "the seven stars of the north." In the related myth, a widow with seven sons found comfort with a widower, but to get to his house required crossing a stream. The seven sons, sympathetic to their mother, placed stepping stones in the river. Their mother, not knowing who put the stones in place, blessed them and, when they died, they became the constellation.
Native American traditions
The Iroquois interpreted Alioth, Mizar, and Alkaid as three hunters pursuing the Great Bear. According to one version of their myth, the first hunter (Alioth) is carrying a bow and arrow to strike down the bear. The second hunter (Mizar) carries a large pot – the star Alcor – on his shoulder in which to cook the bear while the third hunter (Alkaid) hauls a pile of firewood to light a fire beneath the pot.
The Lakota people call the constellation Wičhákhiyuhapi, or "Great Bear."
The Wampanoag people (Algonquian) referred to Ursa Major as "maske," meaning "bear" according to Thomas Morton in The New England Canaan.
The Wasco-Wishram Native Americans interpreted the constellation as 5 wolves and 2 bears that were left in the sky by Coyote.
Northern European traditions
In the Finnish language, the asterism is sometimes called by its old Finnish name, Otava. The meaning of the name has been almost forgotten in Modern Finnish; it means a salmonweir. Ancient Finns believed the bear (Ursus arctos) was lowered to earth in a golden basket off the Ursa Major, and when a bear was killed, its head was positioned on a tree to allow the bear's spirit to return to Ursa Major.
Southeast Asian traditions
In Burmese, Pucwan Tārā (ပုဇွန် တာရာ, pronounced "bazun taya") is the name of a constellation comprising stars from the head and forelegs of Ursa Major; pucwan (ပုဇွန်) is a general term for a crustacean, such as prawn, shrimp, crab, lobster, etc.
In Javanese, it is known as "lintang jong," which means "the jong constellation." Likewise, in Malay it is called "bintang jong."
In Theosophy, it is believed that the Seven Stars of the Pleiades focus the spiritual energy of the Seven Rays from the Galactic Logos to the Seven Stars of the Great Bear, then to Sirius, then to the Sun, then to the god of Earth (Sanat Kumara), and finally through the seven Masters of the Seven Rays to the human race.
In European star charts, the constellation was visualized with the 'square' of the Big Dipper forming the bear's body and the chain of stars forming the Dipper's "handle" as a long tail. However, bears do not have long tails, and Jewish astronomers considered Alioth, Mizar, and Alkaid instead to be three cubs following their mother, while the Native Americans saw them as three hunters.
Noted children's book author H. A. Rey, in his 1952 book The Stars: A New Way to See Them, (ISBN 0-395-24830-2) had a different asterism in mind for Ursa Major, that instead had the "bear" image of the constellation oriented with Alkaid as the tip of the bear's nose, and the "handle" of the Big Dipper part of the constellation forming the outline of the top of the bear's head and neck, rearwards to the shoulder, potentially giving it the longer head and neck of a polar bear.
Ursa Major is also pictured as the Starry Plough, the Irish flag of Labour, adopted by James Connolly's Irish Citizen Army in 1916, which shows the constellation on a blue background; on the state flag of Alaska; and on the House of Bernadotte's variation of the coat of arms of Sweden. The seven stars on a red background of the flag of the Community of Madrid, Spain, may be the stars of the Plough asterism (or of Ursa Minor). The same can be said of the seven stars pictured in the bordure azure of the coat of arms of Madrid, capital of that country.
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- ^Botterweck, G. Johannes, ed. (1994). Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, Volume 7. Wm. B. Eerdmans. pp. 79–80. ISBN .
- ^Allen, R. H. (1963). Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning (Reprint ed.). New York, NY: Dover Publications Inc. pp. 207–208. ISBN . Retrieved 2010-12-12.
- ^Gibbon, William B. (1964). "Asiatic parallels in North American star lore: Ursa Major". Journal of American Folklore. 77 (305): 236–250. doi:10.2307/537746. JSTOR 537746.
- ^Bradley E Schaefer, The Origin of the Greek Constellations: Was the Great Bear constellation named before hunter nomads first reached the Americas more than 13,000 years ago?, Scientific American, November 2006, reviewed at The Origin of the Greek ConstellationsArchived 2017-04-01 at the Wayback Machine; Yuri Berezkin, The cosmic hunt: variants of a Siberian – North-American mythArchived 2015-05-04 at the Wayback Machine. Folklore, 31, 2005: 79–100.
- ^d'Huy Julien, Un ours dans les étoiles: recherche phylogénétique sur un mythe préhistorique, Préhistoire du sud-ouest, 20 (1), 2012: 91–106; A Cosmic Hunt in the Berber sky : a phylogenetic reconstruction of Palaeolithic mythology, Les Cahiers de l'AARS, 15, 2012.
- ^"The Myths of Ursa Major, The Great Bear | AAVSO". AAVSO. Archived from the original on 2016-03-26. Retrieved 2016-04-24.
- ^Hamilton, Edith Mythology New American Library, New York, 1942, chapter 21 (Callisto).
- ^Homer, Odyssey, book 5, 273
- ^Mandelbaum, Allen; translator (1990). The Odyssey of Homer. New York City: Bantam Dell. ISBN .
- ^Mahadev Haribhai Desai (1973). Day-to-day with Gandhi: Secretary's Diary. Sarva Seva Sangh Prakashan.
- ^"English-Chinese Glossary of Chinese Star Regions, Asterisms and Star Names". Hong Kong Space Museum. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
- ^The Bansenshukai, written in 1676 by the ninja master Fujibayashi Yasutake, speak several times about these stars, and show a traditional picture of the Big Dipper in his book 8, volume 17, speaking about astronomy and meteorology (from Axel Mazuer's translation).
- ^Ullrich, Jan, ed. (2011). New Lakota Dictionary (2nd ed.). Bloomington, IN: Lakota Language Consortium. p. 956. ISBN . LCCN 2008922508.
- ^Thomas, Morton (13 September 1883). The new English Canaan of Thomas Morton. Published by the Prince Society. OL 7142058M.
- ^Clark, Ella Elizabeth (1963). Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest. University of California Press.
- ^Burnell, A.C. (2018). Hobson-Jobson: Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words And Phrases. Routledge. p. 472. ISBN .
- ^Baker, Dr. Douglas The Seven Rays:Key to the Mysteries 1952
- ^"Archived representation of H.A. Rey's asterism for Ursa Major". Archived from the original on 2014-04-07.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ursa Major.|
Coordinates: 10h 40m 12s, +55° 22′ 48″
Ursa major Images and Stock Photos
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The constellation Ursa Major and Ursa Minor in the starry sky as background
Starry night sky with Ursa Major constellation or the Great Bear and the Big Dipper constellation
Night sky with the constellation of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor and the North Star
Vintage constellation map.
Constellations. Ursa Major (UMa)
Ursa Major constellation on a night starry sky above pine tree and plain, night outdoor background
Northern Stars Over Georgian Bay
Constellations. Ursa Major (UMa)
Ursa Major constellation
Bown bear looking in the water
Big dipper constellation in starry sky
Beautiful night winter landscape with the stars
Big Dipper Constellation
Beautiful night sky, with clouds and constellations
Shooting star near the Big Dipper, Engadine
Stars and reflection
Serene starry night
The Big Dipper
Beautiful Star Field at sunset with Constellations Big Dipper
Night sky with Neowise comet. Starry sky with Big Dipper constellation and rare comet with tail.
The Big Dipper
Starry Night and River, England
Big Dipper and Mountain Fuji
telescope looking at the Great Bear constellation
constellation of the Great Bear and the North Star in the night starry sky, illustration.
At the Drive In
Polar bear and Ursa Major Great Bear constellation. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.
Schoolgirl looking through a telescope
Big Dipper Lake
Woman with astronomical telescope. Night sky, with clouds and constellations
Northern Light with Big Dipper
ursa maior and minor
polar bear and ursa major constellation, collage with real animal on an iceberg looking at the stars ursa major.
The Big Dipper - Ursa Major
The Northern Lights Aurora Borealis
Deep space images, galaxy M109 (Messier 109) in the constellation Ursa Major
Starry night Ursa Major,Big Dipper constellation with diffraction spikes
Ursa Major, Bootes and Leo constellations in the winter night sky
Drive In Movie Theatre
Constellation of Ursa major
Milky Way stars and starry skies photographed with long exposure from a remote suburb dark location.
Silhouette of mountain bicycle with glowing lamps
Ursa Major in Albidona
Ursa major and Ursa Minor Constellations in outer space with polar star
old chart of the heavens
Brown bear standing out and looking his next snack in the wild Kamchatka, far east Russia
The Big Dipper Constellation in starry sky over mountains
Night photo into the sky of the Big Dipper constellation
Reflection of Big Dipper and Aurora Borealis in lake
night forest silhouette under a night starry sky and Ursa Major constellation
The Badlands SD, Big Dipper
Major image ursa
Position in the Sky
- M40 Winecke 4 (double star)
- M81 Bode's Galaxy or Bode's Nebula (spiral galaxy)
- M82 The Cigar Galaxy (irregular galaxy)
- M97 The Owl Nebula (planetary nebula)
- M101 The Pinwheel Galaxy (spiral galaxy)
- M108 (spiral galaxy)
- M109 (spiral galaxy)
(It is suspected that the galaxy that Messier recorded as M102 is actually M101)
The constellation Ursa Major contains the group of stars commonly called the Big Dipper. The handle of the Dipper is the Great Bear's tail and the Dipper's cup is the Bear's flank. The Big Dipper is not a constellation itself, but an asterism, which is a distinctive group of stars. Another famous asterism is the Little Dipper in the constellation Ursa Minor.
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you can use the Big Dipper to find all sorts of important stars:
- If you draw an imaginary line from Merak through Dubhe out of the cup of the dipper (see the picture above) and continue five times as far as Dubhe is from Merak, you will arrive at Polaris, the North Star.
- Now draw an imaginary line along the handle of the dipper and continue the arc across the sky. Eventually this will lead you to the very bright star, Arcturus in the constellation Boötes. If you continue the arc further, you will reach Spica in Virgo. You can remember this by saying "Arc to Arcturus and Speed to Spica."
- If you follow the other two stars in the cup of the dipper (Megrez and Phecda) down below the cup, you will get to Regulus.html, the brightest star in Leo.
According to some Native American legends, the bowl of the Big Dipper is a giant bear and the stars of the handle are three warriors chasing it. The constellation is low in the sky in autumn evening sky, so it was said that the hunters had injured the bear and its blood caused the trees to change color to red.
Although the whole of Ursa Major is difficult to see without very dark skies, the Big Dipper is one of the most recognizable patterns in the northern sky. In other cultures it was identified as a wagon or cart, a plow, a bull's thigh, and (to the Chinese) the government.
The Big Dipper was also a very important part of the Underground Railroad which helped slaves escape from the South before the Civil War. There were songs spread among the slave population which included references to the "Drinking Gourd." The songs said to follow it to get to a better life. This veiled message for the slaves to flee northward was passed along in the form of songs since a large fraction of the slave population was illiterate.
Check out the Ursa Major page which is part of the Texas Astronomical Society's Constellation of the Month Series.
Back to Constellations Home Page
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And why would that be. But actually, but actually. No, don't you dare think.