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    Re: Constellation names.
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2003 Nov 1, 22:01 +0000

    Aubrey O'Callaghan asked-
    >I learned the Ursa Major and Minor as the great and little bear. This is a
    >direct translation.
    >Where does the big and little dipper come from?
    I think the shape of Ursa Major, anyway, can be likened to a some sort of
    ladle or spoon, with bowl and handle, which in American can presumably be
    called a dipper. It's not a name that's ever used in Britain, as far as I
    know: Instead, its popular name is the Plough, being shaped somewhat like
    the old horse-drawn plough.
    It reminds me of the time I was visiting old friends in Chicago, which must
    have been all of 40 years ago. Their kids were watching a children's TV
    programme, and when some pictures of the night sky came up, I started to
    take an interest. The big dipper appeared with its bowl and handle. It was
    explained that if you drew a line between the two stars that made up the
    end of the handle (and then these were emphasised, and a line drawn between
    them to extend the direction of the handle, to make it absolutely clear)
    then that line always pointed due North. Just remember that, said the
    attractive young lady on the screen, and you will never get lost at night.
    I do hope that message wasn't taken to heart. Perhaps there are now-elderly
    Americans wandering around in the dark, in a state of complete confusion,
    to this day.
    contact George Huxtable by email at george@huxtable.u-net.com, by phone at
    01865 820222 (from outside UK, +44 1865 820222), or by mail at 1 Sandy
    Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.

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