The folklore and stories behind the names of constellations

The folklore and stories behind the names of constellations

The Big Dipper

The Big Dipper is one of the most recognizable constellations in the northern hemisphere. It is also known as the Great Bear, due to its resemblance to the shape of the animal. In Greek mythology, the Great Bear was called Callisto, a nymph who was transformed into a bear by the goddess Hera as punishment for her beauty. The gods eventually placed Callisto in the sky as the constellation we know today.

The folklore and stories behind the names of constellations


Cassiopeia is named after the queen of the same name in Greek mythology. According to legend, Cassiopeia offended the sea god Poseidon by boasting about her daughter's beauty. As a result, Poseidon sent a sea monster to attack her kingdom. In order to appease the god, Cassiopeia sacrificed her daughter, Andromeda, who was later placed in the stars as her own constellation.


Named after the famous hunter in Greek mythology, Orion is a constellation best viewed from the winter skies. According to legend, Orion was in love with the goddess Artemis, who was also the goddess of hunting. One day, Orion boasted that he could kill any animal on Earth with his bow and arrow. Artemis sent a scorpion to kill Orion, but the gods eventually placed both Orion and the scorpion in the sky as constellations.


Leo is named after the Latin word for lion. In Greek mythology, Leo was the Nemean lion, a creature with impenetrable skin that terrorized the people of Nemea. The hero Heracles was eventually tasked with killing the lion, which he accomplished by strangling it with his bare hands. Heracles then used the lion's own claws to skin it and wore the skin as a cloak.

Ursa Major and Ursa Minor

The constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor are collectively known as the Great and Little Bear. In Greek mythology, the two constellations were said to be the mother and daughter of Callisto, the original Great Bear constellation. Zeus placed them in the sky to honor them and as a warning to other nymphs not to offend the gods.

Constellations have fascinated humans for centuries, and their stories and folklore continue to capture our imaginations today.