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Ursa Major

The Great Bear

Ursa Major and especially its main asterism, the Big Dipper is the most prominent constellation in the in the northern celestial hemisphere.

Its Latin name means "greater bear" but mythology associated with the constellation dates back way past the Greco-Roman era into prehistory.

The constellation contains seven stars of a magnitude of 3.0 or brighter, the brightest being Alioth (ε UMa), Dubhe (α UMa) and Alkaid (η UMa).

Ursa Major It is one of the 48 original Ptolemaic Constellations; in Ptolemy's Almagest, the constellation was listed under its Greek name Arktos Megale.

Ursa Major in the Night Sky
Legends about the constellation can be found in many cultures.

This section describes the constellation as it is seen in the night sky.

For myth and star lore about Ursa Major click here.

Star maps based on map provided by Sea & Sky

The stars of Ursa Major

Number Desig-
Number Desig-
1 M40 Messier 40 / Winnecke 4
14 ψ Ta Tsun
2 M81 Bode's Galaxy
15 ι Talitha
3 M82 Cigar Galaxy
16 θ Al Haud
4 M97 Owl Nebula
17 δ Megrez
5 M101 Pinwheel Galaxy
18 ο Muscida
6 M108 Messier 108 / NGC 3556
19 λ Tania Borealis
7 M109 Messier 109 / NGC 3992
20 ν Alula Borealis
8 ε Alioth
21 μ Tania Australis
9 α Dubhe
22 κ Alkaphrah
10 η Alkaid
23 χ Taiyangshou
11 ζ1 Mizar
24 υ Upsilon Ursae Majoris
12 β Merak
25 ξ Alula Australis
13 γ Phad
26 g Alcor

The Big Dipper

The best recognized part of Ursa Major is the asterism of the Big Dipper, which consists of some of the brightest stars in the northern hemisphere.

The asterism is recognized in many cultures in different forms, as a plow, a carriage, a ladle or several kind of animals.

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