Tuesday, December 11, 2007
URSA MAJOR AND URSA MINOR
These were a favorite of mine...Ursa Major (the big dipper) showing Ursa Minor (the little dipper) her namesake in the constellations. From paw tip to toe Ursa Major stands about 6 feet tall and Ursa Minor is about 4.5 feet tall.
In Roman mythology the beautiful maiden, Callisto, was hunting in the forest. She grew tired and laid down to rest. The god Jupiter noticed her and was smitten with her beauty. Jupiter's wife, Juno, became extremely jealous of Callisto. Some time later, Juno discovered that Callisto had given birth to a son and decided that Jupiter must have been the father. To punish her, Juno changed Callisto into a bear so she would no longer be beautiful. Callisto's son, called Arcas, was adopted and grew up to be a hunter, while Callisto continued to live in the forest. One day Callisto saw Arcas and was so overjoyed at seeing her son that she rushed up to him, forgetting she was a bear. Arcas thought he was being attacked and shot an arrow at Callisto. Jupiter saw the arrow and stopped it from hitting her. To save Callisto and her son from further damage from Juno, Jupiter changed Arcas into a bear also, grabbed them both by their tails, and swung them both into the heavens so they could live peacefully among the stars. The strength of the throw caused the short stubby tails to become elongated. Juno was even angrier with Jupiter and managed to exact still more revenge on poor Callisto and Arcas. She went to the gods of the sea and forbade them to let the two bears wade in their water or streams on their long and endless journey around the pole star.