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Sky Lore of the Hopi Tribe

18 Jan 2016, 07:01 UTC
Sky Lore of the Hopi Tribe
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Almost everyone can identify the Big Dipper, but many don’t realize it’s actually part of a larger constellation known as Ursa Major (Big Bear). The Dipper is technically called an asterism — not a constellation. Its 7 bright stars are the easy ones to spot. The rest of the stars that make up the “bear” are difficult to see unless you have really dark skies. And even if you can see those stars, it’s a bit of a stretch to make out the shape of a bear.
Nobody knows who first named Ursa Major, but Claudius Ptolemy listed it as one of 48 constellations in the sky charts he published in the second century AD. The night sky was a lot darker back then, so more stars were visible for making up human and animal shapes by connecting the dots.
In Great Britain, the Dipper was called the Plough or the Wagon. In other cultures, additional stars were recruited to make other familiar shapes. For the Hopi tribe in the American southwest, the Dipper was Sootuvipi.
Sootuvipi translates roughly as “star thrower” or “star sling.” The sling was a weapon used for hunting in many cultures, and the shape of ...

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