Norges Bank

On the Plough, in the constellation Ursa Major

This text is based on Store Norske Leksikon [Large Norwegian Encyclopedia], the website Klasseromsspace and others.

The Plough (or Big Dipper) asterism (group of stars) is depicted with white lines on the reverse side of the 50-krone note and comprises the seven brightest stars in the constellation Ursa Major or Great Bear. As it is readily visible in the night sky, the Plough is used actively as a reference point or for locating other constellations and stars.

The Plough is located relatively close to the north celestial pole, where the North Star (Polaris) is located. Polaris always remains fixed, with the other stars revolving around it. This means that at Norway's latitudes, the Plough never sets and is visible in the sky every starlit night.

In Norwegian, the Plough is called Karlsvogna which can be understood as "Charles' chariot" or "Man's chariot". The first part of the name, Karl (Old Norse for "man"), may refer to Thor's byname, Torekarl. This name contrasts with the name of a similar asterism in the constellation Ursa Minor (Little Bear), which in Old Norse was called Kvennavagn, or "Woman's chariot". The Plough is referred to as a "chariot" or "wagon" in many of the world's languages.

Published 5 October 2018 14:10