International Star Registry

All Constellations

Ursa Major - Big Bear

The pointer stars are Dubhe, the back of the bear, and Merak, the loin of the bear. Dubhe is a bright yellow binary of 2 magnitude. Merak is 2.5 magnitude and greenish-white in color.

All of the stars in Ursa Major have names which relate to parts of the bear and are visible with the naked eye. There is a meteor shower on November 10th from “Alkaid”, the end of the tail or handle.

There are many remarkable stories surrounding the two tireless bears of the sky who never find rest nor water to slake their thirst.

But, like Argo Navis and Orion, there is something even more important which distinguishes the big and little dippers (or bears). That is, most laymen who want to orient themselves while gazing at the stars do so by first finding the big dipper, then drawing an imaginary line from which the dipper would spill if the liquid contained in it were spilled. That spill, if followed, leads directly to Polaris, which is the fixed North Star. Polaris is also the last star in the handle of the smaller dipper. So if you can remember that the big dipper pours on the tail of the little dipper’s handle, you have oriented yourself in the heavens, located two constellations, and found the Polaris star.
Right Ascension 11:29
Diameter (°)31
Area (square °)1280
Opposition Mar 12
Size Rank 3rd
Brightness Rank 8th
GenitiveUrsae Majoris