From this article you will learn about what constellations are and where their names come from.
As you know, there is a great number of patterns from the stars in the sky, which has always been the object of people's attention in different periods of human existence. Ancient people sought to know this interesting world and everything that went beyond it. They studied the night sky, and already in the Neolithic period the first groups of stars were formed, which got their names. Many of them have long been forgotten. And about some only the historians of astronomy know.
Earlier constellations were called clusters of stars
So, about 5 thousand years ago people began to allocate the brightest night luminaries in the night sky and unite them into groups. Now mankind uses modern technologies for studying, which were not available before. Constellations were called configurations, which were formed from bright stars. They served primarily for navigation, as well as for determining the seasons, the time of day, for predictions and for astrological purposes.
What is a constellation?
In the sense that is accepted now, this concept was formed even in Ancient Greece a couple of centuries ago. Then the visible sky was mentally divided into groups of stars. In order to be more convenient to navigate in space, each site was given a name, based on what the particular figure looked like. Between the constellations are sites that the Greeks called "empty places". However, there are also stars there, only they were not assigned to any group. About them, for example, they said: "the area between Lebed and Lira."
And if earlier constellations were called any cluster of stars, in the modern world this designation was a little more specific. Now this concept is defined as large areas of the celestial sphere, each of which contains several bright luminaries visible to the naked eye. These areas often form a pattern that is easy to remember.
It is also important to know what constellations are called those territories, to which without intersection and empty spaces the entire sky is divided. At the same time, the regions have certain boundaries. Therefore, one should not confuse a simple cluster of stars with constellations.
At the moment the celestial sphere is divided into 88 constellations, the names and boundaries of which in 1922 were approved at the first congress of the International Astronomical Union.
Where do the names come from
As you know, the constellations are named after the mythological Greek heroes, animals and even by the name of objects, the shape of which they resemble. So, for example, in the starry sky, such legendary characters as Pegasus, Cepheus, Perseus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda and others live. All of them are related to the myths of ancient Greece, of which there are a great many.
Also in the night sky, you can find Eagle, Dolphin, Dove, Lion, Fox, Peacock and many other animals.
Other constellations bear names in the form of objects: Pump, Microscope, Stove, Grid, Arrow, Compass, Bowl, Clock, etc.
As we see, there is a huge list of names assigned to the heavenly bodies.
Why named the constellation Ursa Major
Each of us from childhood was interested in everything related to heavenly bodies. Why does this or that star have such a name? Why did the Big Dipper name the bucket? How and who gives the name to the constellations?
Seven bright stars, which are clearly visible to the naked eye in the night sky, are completely unlike the figure of a bear. Why did they call this constellation? Maybe someone had a fancy, and the meaning of this is understandable and is accessible only to people with a good imagination?
Let's try to understand this question.
As we already know, clusters of stars called before constellations. Called them, guided by the shape of the educated figure. Artist-designers who created the ancient atlases of the stars, tried to fit the outline of the animal to the outline of the figure in the sky and often depicted a bear with a long tail. They had to do this so that people with less imagination could "see" this beast in the sky, not another.
The name "Big Dipper" constellation received from the ancient Greeks. In ancient Greek it sounded like an "arctos megale". Hence the name Arctic was born.
According to one legend, Zeus was captivated by the daughter of King Lakion, who accompanied the goddess Artemis on the hunt, and seduced the girl. She became pregnant, and the goddess saw her while bathing and turned it into a bear. The girl in the guise of an animal gave birth to the son of Arkad, who settled among the people. But one day the hunters, led by Arkad, attacked the bear and wanted to kill her. Then Zeus, remembering his connection with the daughter of Lakion, saved her by placing him in the sky among the constellations. When in a hurry he raised the bear to the sky by the tail, he stretched out and became long.