The Great Bear is one of the most famous constellations. Centuries ago, people watched her to navigate in time and space. It is not surprising, because the “animal” never hides behind the horizon and glows every night. And we just get acquainted with this group of heavenly bodies in childhood thanks to cartoons, stories of parents, teachers. But why the Big Dipper constellation is called the Bucket – the question for many remains a mystery. Find out the answer?
Why Bucket was named Big Bear: Legends and Facts
Let’s listen to ancient legends
If you look at the astronomical map, it is easy to see that most of the star names are associated with ancient Greek myths. Pegasus, Cepheus, Andromeda – these are the characters who “live” above our heads. But clusters of stars are called depending on the shape they formed.
The ancient graphic designers, composing their atlases, tried to fit the outlines of animals, known objects or phenomena to the outlines of asterisms. They did this so that people with a poor imagination could see a figure in the sky. This is how the Big Bear appeared with a long tail.
Big Dipper Bucket
According to the ancient Greek legend, Zeus captivated the daughter of King Lacion, who went hunting with Artemis. The girl became pregnant and the jealous goddess of anger turned her into a bear. In this form, the beloved of Zeus gave him a son, Arcade. The young man settled among the people and became a hunter. One day, he and his friends were going to kill the big bear. Zeus saved the animal by sending it to heaven. But in a hurry, the god of thunder and lightning pulled the bear to its tail.
It is known that the Greeks found in the constellation not only a big dipper, but also a shell, a wagon for a funeral ceremony. For the Arabs, she was a hearse with the mourners who followed him, the leader. But as a result, any of the names beat the configuration of the seven main points of the Bucket, so it is synonymous with the Big Dipper.
Calculate the stars – 7, 24, or still 200?
You can identify the Big Dipper Bucket by the seven bright stars. In the group itself, scientists previously numbered 24-35 celestial bodies. Today, the Yale catalog has more than 200 items. Under certain conditions, they are all visible without the use of special optics. Such entertaining phenomena as bright galaxies and nebulae are observed in Big Bear.
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7 stars of the Big Dipper Bucket:
Dubhe is located on the right top of the Big Dipper Bucket – its name is translated from Arabic as “bear”. It is the brightest and is defined as alpha constellation.
Merak below Dubhe is translated as “waist”. In a duet, these two celestial bodies form a wall of the Bucket, which is called a pointer – using a straight line between them, navigators and travelers find the Polar Star at the tail of the Little Bear.
Mizar is the second in the tail of the Big Dipper and the sixth in brightness. She has a small companion – Alcor, so Mizar is considered a double star. In ancient times, the ability to distinguish this feature checked the vision. Another duet was called a horse and rider.
Aliot is located closest to the bowl and is epsilon – the brightest star of the Bucket. Why she was called the “fat tail” is unknown. Thekdu was named by analogy with the thigh of a bear. Motionless Benetnash translates as the leader of the mourners. The megretz at the base of the tail of the constellation is distinguished by the dimmest glow.
Interesting fact: all the “participants” of the Big Dipper Bucket move in a single stream along one vector, gradually spreading across the sky. This happens fairly quickly. But 5 celestial bodies act separately and synchronously shift in relation to the others. This causes visual changes in the Bucket picture.
The big bucket is only a small, but the most spectacular part of this group. The actual dimensions of the constellation are huge, in area it is in third place after Hydra and Virgo. Asterism occupied space could accommodate 4 thousand lunar disks.
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