Monday, April 25, 2016

Ursa Minor and the North star.

Ursa Minor's tail, Polaris. Image source

On Friday when I left the office for the weekend I left my dongle on my desk, the result, no internet over the weekend, rats! I came in this morning and started writing straight away with the letter "T" for Titan. But I'm one day behind at this stage so now need to write about the letter U and what what astronomical body begins with that letter. I first read up on Ursa Minor, you will probably know it as the little dog or the little dipper. It's not visible from the Southern Hemisphere, only in the north but it is a very important constellation. This constellation has been used for navigation for eons. The first reference to it comes from 1000 BC. It was used by the Babylonians who apparently got the idea from the Phoneticians. Apparently the bright star at the end of the handle in the little dipper is Polaris, the north star. Useful for navigation but not so useful in very high latitudes.  Because Polaris is directly above there is no way to decide which way is which.
As far as the Bible is concerned the star Polaris isn't specifically mentioned but as of last year astronomers have found that Polaris is getting brighter and they don't really know why. One of the things mentioned by Jesus is the behavior of the stars when the end times are near, that could be what is going on, I'm not sure though.
Blessings from Geoff in South Africa.

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