at the Water's Edge

Living life and learning all I can along the way!

Ursa Major Don't Care and other tales of the sky

I haven’t spent as much time looking at the stars this summer as I ought to have.  However, I have been able to catch several shooting stars and have learned to more easily identify a few stars in the sky, so I've had a little fun and I am making progress.  Yesterday, Tom and I were outside in our hot tub (now that we finally have cool nights again!) and Tom asked me what that really bright thing straight up in the sky was.  I told him it was Vega – the star that Ellie went to in the movie Contact.  And, it’s one of the brightest stars in the sky, which is why it seemed to him so much brighter than the surrounding stars—to the point where he was actually questioning if it was one. 

Very often, the really bright “stars” we see in the sky are actually planets.  Venus and Jupiter can appear exceptionally bright.  I’ve been kind of saddened that there haven’t been many planets to look at this summer, though.  Saturn’s been setting before it’s fully dark, or at least disappearing behind the trees, and Jupiter hasn’t been coming out until late.  Oh well – I suppose it has forced me to pay more attention to the stars and constellations.

Tonight, I noticed something interesting, though not in the sky, per se.  I wanted to double-check that the star we were looking at last night was indeed Vega (even though I had already been through this earlier this summer), and look at some of the surrounding constellations.  I use a program called Starry Night Enthusiast, which shows the sky and the visible celestial objects at any date/time/place.  This program came with my Astronomy textbook in college, though there is a freebie program this is similar called Stellarium* – check it out!  Anyways, as I was looking around, I clicked on an option to view illustrated artwork around the constellations – because I don’t have a good enough imagination to tell what the stick-figure, connect-the-dots images are supposed to be!  No sooner did I turn on that option, when I noticed something unusual.  The Big and Little Dipper, also known as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor – the Great Bear and the Little Bear – were depicted in a manner that looked a lot more like a honey badger than any sort of bear that I’d ever seen.  Have a look:

Most bears that I’ve seen don’t have that sort of face and don’t have that long of a tail, and really don’t have legs/feet that look like that.  In short, it looks like the image of a honey badger.  Besides the fact that it really doesn’t look like a bear, I found this exceptionally humorous as we were just discussing this honey badger video at work and at home today:

**Note: there is excessive use of foul language in this video, but it's otherwise hilarious!

So, my new motto for the night sky is this: Ursa Major Don’t Care.

*Note: The imagery depicted in Stellarium shows drawings that actually look like bears, but they still have the long tails.

Share this:


Hi there! My name is Dana and I live in West Michigan with my husband, Tom and our dog Copernicus. I created this space as a place to share the things I learn along this journey I call life. I work in marketing and I'm a sort of Jane of All Trades, interested in all things nature, gardening, cooking, exploring and learning new things. This blog is a conglomeration of my interests, hobbies, life and life lessons. Thanks for stopping by!