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Callisto and her son Arcas transformed as the Great Bear and the Bear Warden.
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Courtesy of Nova Development Corporation

Callisto and her son Arcas

Callisto was a river goddess. Callisto was the favorite companion of the moon goddess Diana. One day the god Jupiter saw the beautiful Callisto and fell in love with her. Knowing that Diana had warned Callisto about men and gods, Jupiter pretended he was the goddess Diana.

In this disguise, Jupiter made the beautiful Callisto his girlfriend. She gave birth to a boy child named Arcas. Jupiter's wife Juno was mad and changed Callisto into a bear.

One day, when Arcas was a young man, he decided to go hunting. Callisto saw her son and, forgetting that she was a bear, rushed toward him to give him a hug. In fear of his life, Arcas lifted his bow and shot at the charging bear, who was his mother. A Callisto saw her son and, forgetting that she was a bear, rushed toward him to give him a hug.

In fear of his life, Arcas lifted his bow and shot at the charging bear. At the last moment, just before the arrow struck, Jupiter tossed Callisto and her son Arcas into the heavens as the constellations Ursa Major, the Great Bear and Bootes, the Bear Warden. Arcas is always found standing next to his mother.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF