Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Ursa Major

Ursa Major, popularly known as the Great Bear, is one of the best-known constellations of the Northern Hemisphere. It was known as the Bear or the Waggon by the early Greeks, it, like other constellations, being named from some imaginary resemblance to more familiar objects. It is now often spoken of as King Charles's Wain, the Waggon, and the Plough. There are seven bright stars in the Plough, three of which are known as the "handle" and two as the "pointers." The last are so named from the fact that a line produced through them passes very near the Pole-star. There are, however, many more stars than seven in the constellations; about 16 can even be detected by the naked eye. The seven stars were called by the Romans the Seven Ploughing Oxen or Septem Triones, and from this we get the word septentrional for North. Ursa Minor is less noticeable in the sky, its brightest star, a (the Pole-star) being only of the third magnitude. It has been called the Dogs Tail (cynosure), on account of the curve formed by three of the stars. Two thousand years ago it was the star B, and not a, which was nearest to the celestial pole, and was therefore the "Pole-star." Neither the Great nor Little Bear is ever lost to view below the horizon to inhabitants of the northern hemisphere above lat. 40.

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