Ursa major (latin: “larger bear”;also known
as the Great Bear and Charles Wain )is a
constellation visible throughout the year in
most of the northen hemisphere. You can
see it in April on its most perfect angle and
brightest stars of
Ursa Major form
known as the Big
Dipper in the
and Canada, or
the Plough in the
Stars, except for dubhe and Alkaid the stars of the Big
Dipper all have proper motions heading toward a
common point in Sagittarius. Mizar, a star in the Big
Dipper, forms the famous optical double star with
Alcor. The stars Merak & and Dubhe are known as the
‘’pointer stars’’ because they are helpful for finding
Polaris,also known as the North Star.
. Deep-sky objects:
Several bright galaxies are found in Ursa Major, for
example the pair Messier 81 and Messier 82.
• Ursa major was one of the 48 constellations
listed by the 2nd century AD by the
astronomer Ptolemy .It is mentioned by poets
like Homer,Spenser,Shakespeare and
The constellation of Ursa Major has been seen as a bear. The human
being saw it for the first time over 13,000 years ago (in Paleolitic state
of the prehistory).
In Greek mythology,Zeus lusts after a young woman named Callisto.Zeus
jealous at her wife,transforms the beautiful Callisto into a bear and
puts them in the sky forming the Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.
The Iroquois Native Americans interpret Alioth,Mizar,and Alkaid as three
hunters pursuing the Great Bear. According to one version of their
myth, the first hunter (Alioth) is a bow and an arrow to strike down
the bear. The second hunter (Mizar) carries a large pot –the star
Alcor- on his shoulder to cook the bear while the third hunter (Alkaid)
hauls a pile of firewood to light a fire beneath the pot .
In Hinduism,Ursa Major is known as Sapatarshi,each of the stars
representing one of the Sapatarshis or Seven Sages viz:
Bhrigu,Atri,Angirasa,Vasishta,Pulastya,Pulalaha and Kratu.
In Shinto, the 7 largest stars of Ursa Major belong to Amenomikanushi,
the oldest and most powerful of all kami.
• 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.
Plough= Ursa Major in the United Kingdom