URSA MAJOR (er´sa m´-jor)—THE GREAT BEAR. (Face North.)
Location.—Ursa Major is probably the best known of the constellations, and in this work I presuppose that the reader is familiar with its position in the heavens. It is one of the most noted and conspicuous constellations in the northern hemisphere, and is readily and unmistakably distinguished from all others by means of a remarkable cluster of seven bright stars in the northern heavens, forming what is familiarly termed “The Dipper.”
The stars and are called the pointers, because they always point toward the Pole Star, 28¾° distant from .
Alioth is very nearly opposite Shedir in Cassiopeia, and at an equal distance from the Pole. The same can be said of Megres, in Ursa Major, and Caph, in Cassiopeia.
The star is at the tip of the Bear’s nose. A clearly defined semicircle begins at and ends in the pair and at the extremity of the Bear’s right fore paw. This group of stars resembles a sickle. Note little Alcor close to Mizar. This star was used by the Arabs as a test of good eyesight.
Mizar and Alcor are known as the horse and his rider.
This plate shows the Bear lying on his back, his feet projected up the sky; three conspicuous pairs of stars represent three of his four feet.
The Chaldean shepherds and the Iroquois Indians gave to this constellation the same name. The Egyptians called it “The Thigh.”
and are moving through space in a contrary direction to the remaining five stars in “The Dipper.”