The Big Dipping Plough

In-between a pastoral visit and last night’s Bible Study, I had the chance to do a little more star-gazing. Bereft of my telescope, I had to rely on my eyes alone, and immediately beheld another well-known heavenly sight: The Plough. Known to Americans, rather uncouthly, as the Big Dipper, and elsewhere as the ladle or great wain (wagon), it forms the tale and torso of the Great Bear, or Ursa Major. Japanese Shinto religion makes the common mistake of star-worship, considering it to be Amenominakanushi, the ancestral god who created the universe. Christians have suggested it as another explanation for Amos’ invitation to ‘Seek him that maketh the seven stars’ (5:8). 

According to the American mathematical William T. Pelletier in his Bible-Science Guy blog, the Plough is

‘… God’s Clock in the Sky. You can tell time at night from the position of the Plough as it rotates around Polaris relative to the earth. The Plough makes a complete circuit around Polaris every 24 hours. In 6 hours it moves 90 degrees, or 15 degrees every hour. From this information and that of the preceding paragraph, one can read the time at night from the position of the Plough relative to Polaris.’

(Notwithstanding the 1776 Declaration of Independence, I have reverted to the correct, British name for the asterism in question.)

This fulfils God’s command in Genesis 1:14 when He proclaims:

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.


Photo: Gh5046 at English Wikipedia (in the public domain), photographed from Hawaii.