URSA MAJOR

Ursa Major, the Greater Bear, walks upright beneath the North Celestial Pole. The dominant figure, the Big Dipper (Plough in Britain), mark its hindquarters and tail (the stars, in order from the lip of the bowl through the end of the handle, Dubhe, Merak, Phecda, Megrez, Alioth, Mizar, and Alkaid). The "legs" splay down and to the right, the "snout" (represented by Muscida) up and to the right. The star Alcor is just barely seen separated from Mizar, while 78 UMa is easy to spot to the left and a bit up from Alioth. The central five stars of the Dipper (and several others) constitute a physical group, the Ursa Major Cluster. Ursa Major contains 3 sets of "leaps," closely-spaced pairs of stars that (from old Arabia) represent gazelle tracks. The "third leap" is to the right (made of Talitha on top, Kappa on the bottom); the second is down and to the right (the two called Tania Borealis and Tania Australis); the first (made of Alula Borealis and Australis) is off the lower edge of the picture. All three "leaps" appear in the image of Leo Minor, part of which lies in the lower right-hand corner. Al Kaphrah (Chi) is down and just to the right of Phecda. Psi UMa is immediately to the left of of the "second leap," while Theta UMa is immediately to the left of the "third leap." Phi is immediately to the left of Theta. Upsilon is up and to the right of Dubhe and Merak, while 23 UMa lies just above Upsilon. If you are looking for 10 UMa, it's off the picture to the right and in Lynx.

Kochab of Ursa Minor is the brighter of the two near the top edge to the left, while Cor Caroli in Canes Venatici is near the lower edge to the left. Between Kochab and the Dipper is Thuban in Draco.

The hand and fingers of Bootes lie up and to the left of Alkaid, the brightest of which is Theta. At the right edge, below Theta, is Lambda Boo. Iota and Kappa Boo lie just to the right of Theta. Theta, Iota, and Kappa are oddly called Asellus Primus, Secundus, and Tertius, which refer to "donkeys.".

To see a labelled image, push the star:

See the two Dippers together with Draco.

Ursa Major has three stars with orbiting planets: 47 UMa, Pi-2=4 UMa, and HR 4067.

See Ursa Major from Bode's Uranographia of 1801.

By Jim Kaler. Return to STARS.