THE BIG SKY
Boaters moored with a clear horizon to their north get a fantastic view of the Plough this September. It’s a familiar pattern of seven bright stars named for its striking similarity to the outline of that now not-so-familiar piece of agricultural equipment, a horse drawn plough. I like to think of those seven bright stars as a celestial saucepan cooking up some unseen goodies. Thoughts of food aside the constellation’s official latin name, Ursa Major, has nothing to do with kitchen utensils or farming apparatus. Roughly translated it means Great Bear, but how do you make a bear out of those seven stars? The answer is you don’t! The Great Bear takes in many more stars than just the seven bright ones. Trace a line through the saucepan’s handle (the bear’s tail) and across the top of the saucepan (the bear’s back). Continue out to an unequal triangle of stars to the right of the pan. This is the bear’s head. Underneath the pan look for two thin triangles of stars extending down to the right. These are the bear’s legs and feet. It’s a pattern that’s tricky to see first off, but once you’ve got it you’ll always recognise it!