Friday, March 7, 2014

Ursa Major - The Big Bear

The ancient Greeks and some Native American groups both called these stars a big bear. The Big Dipper is only the rear end and tail of the bear. But have you ever seen a bear with a tail like that? It looks more like a raccoon or an angry cat to me. Well, imagine you're sitting around the campfire thousands of years ago and an old shaman begins to tell you the tale of the Big Bear...

"Once upon a time, a long long time ago there was a young hunter. It had been a cold and dark winter and the village was on the brink of starvation. So they sent their best hunter out in search of food. He collected his bow and arrows and hiked off down the path. He hiked and hiked and hiked and hiked until he came to a dangerous section of the path along the ridge of a mountain - cliffs on each side. As he looked ahead there was a humongous momma bear laying in his path taking a nap (insert snoring noises please). The hunter couldn't go around the bear, over the bear, or under the bear. And he couldn't turn back home foodless as he was. What to do?

The hunter decided that action needed to be taken. Since desperate times call for desperate measures he snuck up on that momma bear and grabbed her by her short, stubby tail and began swinging him around over his head (he was a strong guy!). And as the bear was twirling around and around a funny thing began to happen. The bear's tail started stretching and stretching until finally the hunter let go - whoosh! The bear flew up, up, up so high that she stuck - splat! - into the sky where she slowly turned into the stars we see today. And that is how the Big Bear got her long tail."

People loved this story so much that they wanted to hear more - a sequel. Stay tuned for Part II, the Bear Strikes Back!