Big Dipper

Image title: Big Dipper
Author: Arya Anthony
Country: India

This photograph, taken in Udupi, India, in May 2021, shows the seven brightest stars in the constellation Ursa Major. This asterism was seen as a Wagon by the Babylonians, which probably led to the alternative interpretation of the Chariot in the didactic poem of the Greek poet Aratus. The normal Greek interpretation is the constellation of the Great She-Bear, which also includes many fainter stars in a much broader area of the sky.

In ancient Egypt, these seven stars form the figure of the Bull’s Foreleg or the Bull’s Thigh. It is considered a part of the leg of the god Seth, who was considered the evil one of two brothers; the god Osiris (who is sometimes considered the first king of Egypt) was murdered by his brother Seth. Their loving sister put together the scattered pieces of the corpse and reanimated him. In order to prevent Seth from further evil deeds, this leg was attached to a dowel in the sky.

These seven bright stars were considered The Northern Dipper, containing the asterism of the Judges by the nobility in Ancient China. In French and in Dutch, it is called a Saucepan, in German a Chariot and in British English a Plough. The commonly known term “Big Dipper” is American English. They are considered the male figure who is the father of all stars and humans in the North American Navajo saga, where he is said to be the husband of a mother goddess seen in Cassiopeia. Similarly, it is designated the Man’s Cart in Norse mythology with the Woman’s Cart in Ursa Minor. In some other northern cultures, the group is interpreted as an Elk, for instance for the Inuits and Siberians, while the Sami see the Bow and Arrow of Favdna here. In contrast, not all cultures in the southern hemisphere named it because it is always either close to the horizon or invisible. For instance, the Brazilian Tucano people called it the Large Anus of the Snake and in Samoa it forms part of the Heirloom Warclub.

The Hawaiian people also used the asterism for navigation and called it The Seven, while the Macedonian tradition interpreted it as Seven Thieves. In Italian star lore, it is either called The Seven Oxen (Rome) or The Seven Brothers (Sardinia). Similarly, the Mongolian traditions speak of Seven Buddahs while the Indians call it the Seven Sages.

Also see image in Zenodo:


Arya Anthony/IAU OAE

About the Image

Release date:
15 December 2022, 12:00
Related announcements:
2047 x 2047 px
Image Use

About the Object

Milky Way : Sky Phenomenon : Night Sky : Constellation

Image Formats

Large JPEG
572.2 KB
Screensize JPEG
109.9 KB



109.0 KB
179.8 KB
265.3 KB
320.1 KB
406.2 KB