What is Canis Major?
Anyway, back to Canis Major. There are several mythical variations of the story. But the one I accept is that Canis Major is one of Orion’s dogs that helps him chase rabbits across the night sky. I’m not sure which stars make up the rabbits but they must be there somewhere. What dog doesn’t like to chase rabbits?
Another constellation, Canis Minor (small dog) is also one of Orion’s hunting dogs. Canis Minor rises about an hour before Canis Major. The brightest star in Canis Minor is Procyon which means “before the dog.”
Fancy, my Miniature Schnauzer, claims that Canis Major represents a Giant Schnauzer and Canis Minor is a Miniature Schnauzer. Other dog breeds may agree to disagree on that.
Just how important a person does one need to be to have a constellation named after them? Well as for Orion, he was a great hunter, maybe the greatest ever, and he could hunt any animal known or unknown to man, gods, or mother nature. Orion could also walk on waves because his father was Poseidon, the god of the seas.
Being the greatest hunter in the universe may not be such a good thing to be. Mother Earth didn’t approve of Orion’s hunting skills, so she sent a scorpion to kill him. After his death and because Orion was such a hero, Zeus placed Orion among the constellations as a fitting memorial. The dastardly scorpion also has a constellation, Scorpius.
What About Asterisms?
I am glad you asked about asterism (astronomy). They are similar to constellations in that they are a group of stars. I think of them as a poor man’s constellation. If you can’t make out the entire constellation, Ursa Major (big bear), you can probably recognize the Big Dipper asterism, which is part of the Ursa Major constellation. Some other familiar asterisms include the square of Pegasus, the Little Dipper (Ursa Minor), and the Southern Cross (Crux).