University of Edinburgh
 

BSL Astronomy Glossary - the plough - definition

Definition: The Plough is a star pattern that is easy to spot in the night sky. It is not a constellation, just a distinctive pattern of stars that is part of the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear. When stargazing, it is a useful tool to help locate other celestial bodies in the night sky. It lies on the left hand side of the constellation Ursa Major and its seven stars represent the bear’s hindquarters and tail. In ancient Greece, people believed its shape resembled their old fashioned plough with a handle and a blade but, in France, it is called ‘the Saucepan’ because it looks a bit like a pot and handle. As it is so easy to spot from the northern hemisphere, it has been given a variety of different names but in the UK it is known as the Plough. One of the most important tools for locating other stars and constellations, it is always visible from Scotland as it moves in close proximity, around Polaris, the North Star.