Arcas was the son of Callisto, who was transformed by Juno into a bear. When Arcas was fifteen, he was out hunting in the forest when he came across a bear. The bear behaved quite strangely, looking him in the eyes. He of course could not recognize his mother in her strange shape, and was preparing to shoot her when Jupiter prevented him. Arcas was transformed into a bear like his mother, and the two were taken up into the sky. Juno was annoyed that the pair should be given such honor, and took her revenge by convincing Poseidon to forbid them from bathing in the sea. It is for this reason that Ursa Major and Ursa Minor are both circumpolar constellations, never dipping beneath the horizon when viewed from northern latitudes.
Ursa Minor is better known as the Little Dipper. Polaris, the star marking the end of the dipper's handle, is located at the north celestial pole.
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These pages are the work of Cathy Bell
cmbell (at) comfychair (dot) org
originally for the Princeton University course CLA 212.