Constellation Ursa Major

One of the most beloved and famous clusters of stars in the entire sky is the Ursa Major Constellation. It is he who is first shown to children, the first to be found in heaven and carefully examined, trying to unravel all its secrets. Its name literally translates from Latin as "big bear", and the brightest stars form the recognizable asterism "bucket", which is clearly visible in the night sky.

All representatives of various cultures knew about this constellation, therefore the Ursa Major Constellation is associated with a huge number of legends, myths and stories. Everyone tried to figure out exactly how it appeared in the sky, and why it was associated with a formidable forest predator.

The constellation was cataloged already in the second century, it was done by Ptolemy himself, who loved to study the "heavenly bucket". Scientists have found that the constellation Ursa Major is the largest in the entire Northern Hemisphere of the sky, as well as the third largest angular area among all the constellations.
Another advantage of the "celestial predator" can be called the fact that she became the ancestor of the constellation group of the same name. In the night sky, it is easy to see that she borders eight of her brothers at once.
It's not a secret for anyone what the constellation Ursa Major looks like - in shape it resembles a huge bucket, which can be seen in the sky even with the naked eye. It is this bucket that is a non-entering constellation on the territory of the Russian Federation. To fully understand the Bear, you need to know its history and composition.


Legend of the constellation Ursa Major

Very often, instead of the real name, you can hear simply "Big Bucket" or "Plow", making a reference to the world-famous asterism. However, the constellation's official name is Ursa Major, and there are many explanations for this. The Cluster of Stars is one of the oldest and most famous constellations in the sky. Even before the famous astronomer Ptolemy noticed it, the constellation was noted in the oldest texts of Homer and even in the Bible.

As already mentioned, Ursa Major is a well-known constellation, so it was talked about in many cultures, and each culture is ready to provide its own unique story. For example, in Greek mythology, the "heavenly predator" is identified with Callisto. This is a beautiful, charming nymph, past the beauty of which the thunderer Zeus could not pass. God fell madly in love with a nymph, but his jealous wife Hera soon found out about this. She did not like that her husband fell in love with another woman, so the goddess decided to take revenge and turned Callisto into a huge bear.

After many years, when Calliso was still living in her bear form, the former nymph met Hera and Arkas, the son of Zeus. Then the bear went in his direction, but no one recognized her. To prevent the tragedy, the thunderer intervened in the situation and came up with the best way out - he placed them in the sky and admired how they form the constellations Ursa Major and Bootes.
There is another common myth that connects the constellation Ursa Major dipper with another beautiful woman from Greece - Adrastea. Another nymph known for feeding the baby Zeus. There was another woman, Ida, who also often appeared in Greek myths, identified with the constellation Ursa Minor. Except for the Bucket, "Medveditsa" was defined differently by all cultures. So, some saw in her a boat, others a sickle or shark, a camel and other various images.
In Slavic culture, the constellation Ursa Major and Ursa Minor is usually called the Big and Little Carts because of their interesting shape. And Bootes is considered a kind of driver who drives these carts across the endless sky. Ancient Greek sailors and travelers have always used the "heavenly predator" as a navigator, navigating by it in the sea. The Germans call it the Big Basket, and the Dutch call it the Pan because it has a handle.


It is very easy to use the constellation Ursa Major in navigation, since with its help you can see the path to the Polar Star, which is part of the Small Bucket. It is enough to follow the imaginary line drawn from Merak to Dubhe, and mentally continue the arc. Then you can immediately find the Pole Star , by which sailors have always guided themselves. In the same way, an imaginary line can lead to Bootes and Virgo.

The Arabs came up with an equally interesting option. In Arab culture, a cluster of stars is believed to represent a "coffin with mourners." The last star in the tail of the Bear is identified as the leader, while the others are mourners. Different versions of the names were given to pairs of stars that represent the legs of the bear.


The main stars of the constellation Ursa Major

Many are trying to count how many stars are in the constellation Ursa Major. Researchers identify seven main luminaries that make up the "predator", and they are all beautiful in their own way. These are stars that are completely different in shape, composition and age, but some of them are combined into groups.

Aliot is considered the brightest and most beautiful star in the entire constellation. The researchers put it in thirty-first place in a kind of "rating" of the brightness of all the stars they discovered. Due to the fact that the star is located in the bear's tail, it received the name, which translates as the tail of cattle. The main star of the Big Dipper belongs to the group of moving stars of the constellation, which is united by a similar speed and origin.

It was first discovered by the famous English astronomer Proctor, who studied the constellation in the second half of the nineteenth century. It was he, thanks to long observations and research, who guessed that all the stars of the Bear, except two, share the same correct movement, heading towards a point located in the constellation Sagittarius. Therefore, he combined the objects together.

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