Ursa Major

Tuesday 19 September 2017 - 22:02:15 Posted by  Bobby

 Mythology of Ursa Major

Ursa Major is one of the most prominent constellations, Canis Major is embellished by the brightest of all stars, Sirius. It depicts the larger of the two dogs belonging to Orion, the hunter (the other being represented by Canis Minor). As the Earth rotates, the dogs seem to follow the hunter across the sky.

 The Facts

  • Depiction: The Great Bear
  • Pronounced: ER-sah MAY-jer
  • Genitive: Ursae Majoris
  • Abbreviation: UMa
  • Highest in the Sky: February to May
  • Size Ranking: 3rd
  • Coverage Area: 1,280 Sq. Degrees
  • Right Acension: 11 hours
  • Declination: 50°
  • Visibility: 90°N to 22°S

 Notable Objects

  • Big Dipper: Asterism
  • M81: Galaxy
  • M82: Galaxy
  • M97: Owl Nebula
  • M101: Pinwheel Galaxy
  • M108: Barred spiral galaxy
  • NGC 2976: Unbarred spiral galaxy
  • NGC 3034: Starburst galaxy
  • NGC 5474: Dwarf galaxy
  • QSO 0957 561A/B: Double Quasar
  • Zeta Ursae Majoris: Multiple star
  • Xi Ursae Majoris: Binary star

 Named Stars

  • Dubhe, Alpha Ursae Majoris
  • Merak, Beta Ursae Majoris
  • Phecda, Gamma Ursae Majoris
  • Megrez, Delta Ursae Majoris
  • Alioth, Epsilon Ursae Majoris
  • Alcor, Zeta Ursae Majoris
  • Alkaid, Eta Ursae Majoris
  • Talitha, Iota Ursae Majoris
  • Tania Borealis, Lambda Ursae Majoris
  • Tania Australis, Mu Ursae Majoris
  • Alula Borealis, Nu Ursae Majoris
  • Alula Australis, Xi Ursae Majoris
  • Musicda, Omicron Ursae Majoris

 Best Viewed Objects/Stars

The Big Dipper (The Plough)

 One of the best known patterns in the sky, consisting of the naked-eye stars Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, and Eta Ursae Majoris. The outline that they form is visualized in various cultures as that of a plow, a ladle, a saucepan, and even a wagon. All the stars in the Big Dipper, with the exception of the outermost two (Alpha and Eta), are traveling in the same direction through space and form what is known as a moving cluster.

Zeta Ursae Majoris (Mizar)

 A multiple star. Observers with good eyesight or suing binoculars will see that this star of magnitude 2.2 has a partner of magnitude 4.0, known as Alcor or 80 Ursae Majoris. Mizar and Alcor are 78 and 81 light-years away, so they are not a true binary pair. However, a small telescope reveals that Mizar has a closer 4th-magnitude companion. This pair forms a true binary with a very long orbital period.

Xi Ursae Majoris

 A binary star with close components of magnitudes 4.3 and 4.8 that can be separated through a telescope of 3 in (75 mm) aperture. The yellowish stars, similar to the Sun, are 26 light-years away and have an orbital period of 60 years.

M81 & M82

 Two contrasting galaxies about 12 million light-years away. M81 is a beautiful spiral, visible with binoculars or a small telescope. One moon diameter to the north is the smaller and fainter M82, a galaxy of peculiar appearance, which is now thought to be a spiral seen edge-on that is passing through a dust cloud.


 A spiral galaxy that appears face-on to us. It covers almost as much sky as the full Moon but is quite faint, and good conditions are required if it is to be seen with binoculars or a small telescope.

Ursa Major

 Where to?

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Up Next- Ursa Minor 



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