Ursa Major is a circumpolar constellation that can be seen from the northern hemisphere of earth. It is said to resemble a bear and holds importance as per the Greek Mythology. It is among the oldest recognized constellations in the sky. It is the third largest constellation of the 88 constellations known to us. Our ancestors associated many stories and myths with it. Here are some interesting Ursa Major facts to feed your brain.
How did Ursa Major Get Its Name
The Ursa Major got its name about 50,000 years ago. “Ursa Major” is a Latin name which means “The Big Bear”. ”The Ursa Major constellation gets its name from the fact that it resembles a bear, which is why it is also called as the “The Big Bear” Constellation, while Ursa Minor is known as “The Lesser Bear” or “The Smaller Bear”.
Ursa Major Myth
Ursa Major is the well-known constellation that was cataloged by Green Astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd Century. There are several myths and stories associated with it. It is believed that the travelers from the ancient era also associated stories with the Ursa Major. In some cultures, people even consider bears as gods.
As per the Greek (Roman) Mythology, the Ursa Major is Callisto, the girlfriend of Zeus. He transformed her into a bear on the fear of being seen by his wife Hera. But he was not able to transform her back into a woman as his wife insisted on leaving to Olympus.
Another version of the story is that the angry wife of Zeus turned Callisto into a bear. There are many different versions of the story.
Some other cultures that have myths associated with Ursa Major are Arabs. They believe that the middle stars in the Ursa Major represent the son and daughter of al-Naash.
Ursa Major Stars
Ursa major contains the famous asterism “The Big Dipper” or “The Plough”. The “Big Dipper” never sets and is always visible from the north, which is why it is used by navigators to estimate their direction. The Big Dipper is also helpful in spotting the Pole Star or the Polaris.
Alioth, the 31st brightest star in the sky is a part of Ursa Major.