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Posts Tagged ‘Ursa Major’

04/24/2020 – Ephemeris – The Big Dipper can be used to point to other stars and constellations

April 24, 2020 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Arbor Day, Friday, April 24th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 57 minutes, setting at 8:39, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:41. The Moon, 2 days past new, will set at 10:21 this evening.

The Big Dipper can be used to point to other stars and constellations. Right now the Big Dipper is nearly overhead. The front bowl stars point to Polaris, the North Star which never seems to move in the sky. The handle can be used to find two stars. First follow the arc of the handle away from the bowl to find the fourth brightest night-time star Arcturus in the base of the kite shaped constellation of Boötes. Straighten the arc to a spike and continue to the south and you will come to the bright blue-white star Spica in Virgo the virgin. You can remember these stars with the phrase “Follow the arc of the handle to Arcturus and then spike to Spica” or if you prefer the alternate pronunciation of the latter star “Speak to Speeka”.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Finding stars and constellations using the Big Dipper

Finding stars and constellations using the Big Dipper. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program for Windows.

04/13/2020 – Ephemeris – The story of Callisto and Arcas or Ursa Major and Boötes

April 13, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, April 13th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 25 minutes, setting at 8:26, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:59. The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 3:09 tomorrow morning.

Appearing mid way up the sky in the east at 10 p.m. is the kite shaped constellation of Boötes the herdsman. The bright star Arcturus is at the bottom-right of the kite, pointed to by the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper, above it. In one Greek myth Boötes represents a young hunter named Arcas, son of Callisto, a beautiful young lady who had the misfortune of being loved by Zeus the chief of the Greek gods. Zeus’ wife Hera, found out about the affair, and since she couldn’t punish Zeus, turned the poor woman into an ugly bear. Arcas, unaware of the events surrounding his mother’s disappearance in his youth was about to kill the bear when Zeus intervened and placed them both in the sky to save her. To this day Boötes continues to chase the Great Bear, Ursa Major, around the pole of the sky each night.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Arcas and Callisto

Bootes and Ursa Major aka Arcas chasing Callisto around the pole of the sky. Created using Stellarium.

Arcas and Callisto woodcut

Arcas about to slay the bear by the 17th century artist Baur. Source: University of Virginia Electronic Text Center

04/10/2010 – Ephemeris – The constellations of Ursa Major and Ojiig

April 10, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Good Friday, Friday, April 10th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 15 minutes, setting at 8:22, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:04. The Moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 11:54 this evening.

The constellation of Ursa Major, or great bear was well-known to the ancient Greeks and Native Americans. Today, however, many of us can recognize only part of it as the Big Dipper. The whole bear can be easily seen only in a dark sky, at 10 p.m. it’s high in the northeast with feet to the south. The stars in front of the bowl are the front part of his body and head. The bowl of the Big Dipper is his rump, and the handle his long tail. The Native Americans, saw those three stars as three hunters following the bear. The tribes of the Great Lakes region saw it as the Fisher or Ojiig , who brought summer to the Earth. These stars here do make a convincing bear, except for the tail, when seen on a dark night. The weasel-like Fisher fits the stars completely.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The Great Bear and the Fisher

The Big Dipper/Great Bear/Fisher as seen by western and Anishinaabe people. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

The constellation art is part of the latest versions of Stellarium. Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) constellation art by Annette S Lee and William Wilson from Ojibwe Sky Star Map Constellation Guide, ISBN 978-0-615-98678-4.

Here’s the story of how the Fisher brought summer to the Earth:  https://bobmoler.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/the-story-of-the-fisher-star/

04/26/2019 – Ephemeris – The story of Ursa Major and Boötes

April 26, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Arbor Day, Friday, April 26th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours even, setting at 8:41, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:39. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 3:39 tomorrow morning.

Seen in the east at 10 p.m. tonight is the kite shaped constellation of Boötes the herdsman. The bright star Arcturus is at the bottom of the kite to the right. It is pointed to by the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper, higher in the east. Boötes represents a young hunter named Arcas, son of Callisto, a beautiful young lady who had the misfortune of being loved by Zeus the chief of the Greek gods. Zeus’ wife Hera, found out about it, and since she couldn’t punish Zeus, turned the poor woman into a bear. Arcas, many years later, unaware of the events surrounding his mother’s disappearance was about to kill the bear when Zeus intervened and placed them both in the sky to save her, as Arcas still pursues her across the sky nightly.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Arcas and Callisto

Bootes and Ursa Major aka Arcas chasing Callisto around the pole of the sky. Created using Stellarium.

Arcas and Callisto woodcut

Arcas about to slay the bear by the 17th century artist Baur. Source: University of Virginia Electronic Text Center

04/25/2019 – Ephemeris – About Ursa Major

April 25, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, April 25th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 57 minutes, setting at 8:40, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:40. The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 3:01 tomorrow morning.

The Big Dipper has many names to many peoples and countries around the world. Officially to the International Astronomical Union, it’s part of Ursa Major, the Great Bear, also recognized by many Native Americans, and Europeans. It’s even in the Bible. In the Book of Job the star Arcturus is a miss-translation. Arcturus means Guardian of the Bear. It should be the Bear itself, and most modern translations catch that mistake. Anyway, the Anishinaabe people around the Great Lakes say the stars of the bear are that of another creature, that of the Fisher, Ojiig, a mammal of the weasel family that brought summer to the Earth, and now heralds the seasons by his position in the sky.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Ursa Major andOjiig animation

An animation to visualize the Great Bear, Ursa Major and the Fisher, Ojiig, from the stars of and around the Big Dipper. Created using Stellarium.

04/23/2018 – Ephemeris – The Ursa Major Association

April 23, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, April 23rd. The Sun rises at 6:45. It’ll be up for 13 hours and 52 minutes, setting at 8:37. The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 4:15 tomorrow morning.

The usual impression is to think that the stars of a constellation are actually located close together. This is usually not true. The stars of a constellation can be at vastly different distances. The Big Dipper is different. The five stars, excepting the two end stars of the dipper and 12 other dimmer stars in the general area are of similar distance and have the same motion through space. The group is called the Ursa Major Moving Cluster or Ursa Major Association, and is moving about 9 miles per second relative to the solar system to the east and south. An association is a rather loose, sparse star cluster. This association lies about 75 light years away. If it were five times farther away, it would be the same distance as the Pleiades.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The Big Dipper

Craig Brown’s drawing of where the stars of the Big Dipper are and are heading. Click on the image to go to Craig’s WordPress post.

04/10/2018 – Ephemeris – How Boötes and the Great Bear got into the sky

April 10, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, April 10th. The Sun will rise at 7:07. It’ll be up for 13 hours and 14 minutes, setting at 8:21. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 5:14 tomorrow morning.

Appearing mid way up the sky in the east at 10 p.m. is the kite shaped constellation of Boötes the herdsman. The bright star Arcturus is at the bottom-right of the kite, pointed to by the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper, above it. In one Greek myth Boötes represents a young hunter named Arcas, son of Callisto, a beautiful young lady who had the misfortune of being loved by Zeus the chief of the Greek gods. Zeus’ wife Hera, found out about the affair, and since she couldn’t punish Zeus, turned the poor woman into an ugly bear. Arcas, unaware of the events surrounding his mother’s disappearance in his youth was about to kill the bear when Zeus intervened and placed them both in the sky to save her. To this day Boötes continues to chase the great bear Ursa Major around the pole of the sky each night.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Arcas and Callisto woodcut

Arcas about to slay the bear by the 17th century artist Baur. Source: University of Virginia Electronic Text Center

Arcas and Callisto

Bootes and Ursa Major aka Arcas chasing Callisto around the pole of the sky. Created using Stellarium.