Ursa Major Constellation

Touch the Stars detail: Ursa Major, The Great Bear, Ancient Greece

Ursa Major, the Great Bear, comes from Greek mythology and is the name scientists still use for these seven stars and other nearby stars. Callisto, one of Artemis' band of nymphs, was impregnated by the god Zeus while she slept. Since Artemis' nymphs were sworn to virginity, she was expelled from the group and according to some versions, Zeus' jealous wife Hera turned her into a bear. When her son Arcas had grown, she encountered him in the forest, but he failed to recognize her and raised his bow to shoot. Zeus intervened and turned Arcas into a bear, too, grabbed them both by their long tails and hurled them into the sky where they remain as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor (the Great Bear and the Little Bear). Ursa Minor contains the North Star, Polaris.

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