Ursa Major

/err"seuh may"jeuhr/, gen. Ursae Majoris /err"see meuh jawr"is, -johr"-/. Astron.
the Great Bear, the most prominent northern constellation, containing the seven stars that form the Big Dipper.
[1350-1400; ME]

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(Latin: “Greater Bear”),also called  The Great Bear,  

      in astronomy, a constellation of the Northern Hemisphere, at about 10 hours 40 minutes right ascension (the coordinate on the celestial sphere analogous to longitude on the Earth) and 56° north declination (angular distance north of the celestial equator). It was referred to in the Old Testament (Job 9:9; 38:32) and mentioned by Homer in the Iliad (xviii, 487). The Greeks identified this constellation with the nymph Callisto, who was placed in the heavens by Zeus in the form of a bear together with her son Arcas as “bear keeper,” or Arcturus; (Arcturus) the Greeks named the constellation Arctos, the she-bear, or Helice, from its turning around Polaris, the Pole Star. The Romans knew the constellation as Arctos or Ursa. Ptolemy cataloged eight of the constellation's stars. Of these, the seven brightest constitute one of the most characteristic figures in the northern sky; the group has received various names—Septentriones, the Wagon, Plow, Big Dipper, and Charles's Wain. For the Hindus these seven stars represented the seven Rishis (or Sages). Two of the constellation's stars, Dubhe and Merak, are called the pointers because the line Merak-Dubhe points to the Pole Star.

      Five stars of the constellation form an associated group with common proper motion, but Dubhe (the upper pointer) and Alcaid (the last star of the tail) have no connection with the others. Stars in other parts of the sky have been found to belong to the same cluster; Sirius, for example, is a stray member of it.

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Universalium. 2010.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ursa Major — Ursa Ur sa, n. [L. ursa a she bear, also, a constellation, fem. of ursus a bear. Cf. {Arctic}.] (Astron.) Either one of the Bears. See the Phrases below. [1913 Webster] {Ursa Major} [L.], the Great Bear, one of the most conspicuous of the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Ursa major — (lat.), der Große Bär, Ursa minor, der Kleine Bär, Sternbilder, s. Bär …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Ursa Major — [ʉr′sə] n. [L, lit., Great Bear] a prominent N constellation between Lynx and Draco: it contains more than 50 visible stars, seven of which form the Big Dipper; the Great Bear or the Bear …   English World dictionary

  • Ursa Major — This article is about the constellation. For other uses, see Ursa Major (disambiguation). Ursa Major Constellation List of stars in Ursa Major Abbreviation UMa …   Wikipedia

  • Ursa Major — Daten des Sternbildes Großer Bär Deutscher Name Großer Bär, Großer Wagen Lateinischer Name Ursa Maior Lateinischer Genitiv Ursae Maioris Lateinische Abkürzung UMa Rektaszension 8 h 08m bis 14h 29m …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ursa major — Grande Ourse Pour les articles homonymes, voir Grande Ourse (homonymie). Grande Ourse …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ursa Major — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Ursa Major est un nom latin qui peut se rapporter à : Ursa Major, super héros des comics Marvel ; La Grande Ourse, l’une des 88 constellations.… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ursa Major — n. = the Great Bear (see BEAR(2)). Etymology: L, = greater bear * * * Ursa Major 7 [ˌɜːsə ˈmeɪdʒə(r)] [ˌɜːrsə] (also the ˌGreat ˈBear …   Useful english dictionary

  • Ursa Major — Bear Bear (b[^a]r), n. [OE. bere, AS. bera; akin to D. beer, OHG. bero, pero, G. b[ a]r, Icel. & Sw. bj[ o]rn, and possibly to L. fera wild beast, Gr. fh r beast, Skr. bhalla bear.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) Any species of the genus {Ursus},… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Ursa Major — noun A large circumpolar constellation of the northern sky, said to resemble a bear. It includes the familiar asterism the Big Dipper and the stars Mizar, Dubhe, and Alkaid. My father compounded …   Wiktionary

  • Ursa Major — Ur|sa Ma|jor also the Great Bear a large ↑constellation (=group of stars) near the North Pole, which can easily be seen from Earth. The seven brightest stars in Ursa Major are called the Plough (in the UK) or the Big Dipper (in the US) …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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