Most of us know about the big dipper and the little dipper but did you know the big dipper is part of Ursa Major, a celestial bear? What about Cassiopeia, a queen who was put up in the sky as a punishment? The stars light up the night for us, but what are the stories behind some of our most beloved constellations...
Ursa Major and Ursa Minor:
The great bear and the lesser bear. Ursa Major was one of the original 48 constellations. It also holds starts from, you guessed it, the big dipper, the wagon, and the plough. Many civilizations have been able to see Ursa Major over the years and there are multiple stories behind its story in the night sky. One of many is from Roman Mythology, Jupiter (the king of the gods) was in love with a woman named Callisto when his wife, Juno, discovers that Callisto has a son named Arcas who could be Jupiter’s son. Because of her rage, Juno transforms Callisto into a bear and Ursa Major was born. Jupiter in an act of forgiveness turns Arcas into a bear as well and so became Ursa Minor.
Named after the vain queen in mythology, Cassiopeia is also one of the original 48 constellations. Easily recognizable because of its distinct “W” shape, Cassiopeia was the mother of Princess Andromeda and put into the sky as a punishment. Cassiopeia always boasted that her daughter was more beautiful than the sea nymphs, enraging Poseidon. Poseidon wouldn't stand for it, so up into the sky she went. Cassiopeia was forced to go around the North Pole on her thrown in the sky until she was rescued by Perseus whom she ended up marrying.
One of the most recognizable constellations, Orion, has two of the brightest stars in the sky on his belt alone. Rigel is on the bottom right of his belt and Betelguese is on the top left. Orion was well known for his gifted hunted abilities. It was often mentioned that he was so skilled that he regularly hunted with Artemis, the goddess of hunt. Orion is known to have either been killed by her bow or from a great scorpion sting, who later became the constellations Scorpius.