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Seven Stars Constellation

Seven Stars Constellation or just "Constellation" is one of the The Twelve Ornaments or the Twelve Symbols of Sovereignty that was probably known as early as the Zhou dynasty (11th-3rd century BC).

The actual star constellation that is referred to is The Great Bear Constellation, also called the Big Dipper or, Ursa Major.

Ursa Major is highest in the sky in the spring and lowest in the autumn, when, according to Indian legends, the Bear is looking for a place to lie down for its winter hibernation. This constellation is a circumpolar constellation, which means it travels closely around the North Star; it is always above the horizon never rising or setting; it can be seen any time of the year, high or low in the sky.

In the spring the bowl is high above and inverted, as in pouring seeds into the earth. During the summer the handle points upwards as in getting ready to scoop up the harvest. In autumn the bowl is right-side-up, as in filling in the harvest. During the winter the scoop raises up again towards a new planting position with its handle hanging down.

The two pointer stars in the bowl of the Big Dipper are the two outermost stars at the end of the "scoop", that points directly at Polaris, our current North Star. The distance to Polaris appears to be six times the distance between the pointer stars.

The North Star

Ursa Minor means little bear in Latin, but this circumpolar constellation resembles a dipper more than a bear and is therefore commonly called the Little Dipper. It is much smaller than the "Big Dipper", but contains Polaris, the Pole or North Star which is the most important navigational star in the sky.

From earth Polaris appears to remain in the same location, while all the other stars seem to rotate around it, as if it is the center of the universe. Whenever you look at it and extend your arms out to the side you will be facing north, south will be behind you, your right arm will point east and left arm will point west.

The celestial North Pole

The celestial North Pole is the point where the imaginary polar axis of the earth would touch the sky, if it were extended. Polaris, for all practical purposes, is this celestial North Pole, being only one degree off this point. Because of the earth’s wobble the celestial pole shifts as the centuries go by, and different stars become pole stars at different times.

Most of the Little Dipper’s stars are faint. Only the two at the end of the bowl are fairly bright. They are called Guardians of the Pole as they march around the pole like sentries. The brighter one of the pair, seen at the upper end of the bowl, was the Pole Star at the time of Confucius (551-479 B.C.)

Both the Big and the Small Dipper (ursa major and ursa minor) consists of seven stars as we choose to see it. Currently the North Pole Star is the seventh star, at the very end of the handle of the Small Dipper.

In ancient China the seven stars of the Big Dipper were associated with the celestial palace of the Lord On High, the Star God of Longevity, the heavenly mountain, the paradise of the immortals. The star Sirius, the Heavenly Wolf, guarded this celestial palace. Today Sirius is regarded as an outlying member of Ursa Major.

In praxis as in navigating the sea or travelling across the desert land the approximate position of these constellations is by far enough to be able to keep a steady course, and actually, keep track of the calendar.