Planet Earth
International Astronomical Union WGSN

IAU: Ursa Major

Profile / Characteristics

English translationLatin declination and pronunciationsSize/ °²# stars
the Great BearUrsa Major – ER-suh MAY-jur
Ursae Majoris – ER-suh muh-JOR-iss

Ancient Globes

Farnese Globe

Kugel Globe

Mainz Globe

missing (hole in the marble)

Ancient Lore & Meaning


English translation by Douglas Kidd (1997).
Aratus: Phaenomena, Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries, Series Number 34

Online available: translation by Mair (1921) 


Hesiod: daughter of Lycaon of Arcadia, Amphis: consort of Artemis, maiden changed into a she-bear, entered the temple which was not allowed and was therefore fated to die by the Arcadians but rescued by Zeus

French translation by:
Jordi Pàmias i Massana and Arnaud Zucker (2013). Ératosthènes de Cyrène – Catastérismes, Les Belles Lettres, Paris

English version in:
Robin Hard (2015): Eratosthenes and Hyginus Constellation Myths with Aratus’s Phaenomena, Oxford World’s Classics

Early Modern Interpretation


As one of their first tasks in the 1920s, the newly founded International Astronomical Union (IAU) established constellation standards. The Belgian astronomer Eugène Delporte was assigned to the task to define borders of constellations parallel to lines of declination and right ascension. They were accepted by the General Assembly in 1928. The standardized names and abbreviations had already been accepted in 1922 and 1925.  

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