International Star Registry

All Constellations

Ursa Minor - Little Bear

Polaris or Cynosura is only 1 degree from being true north in the sky. It is a yellow-white binary of 2.2 magnitude. It is easily located with the pointer stars of the Big Dipper.

The pouring edge of the Little Dipper is marked by Kochab and Pherkad. Together they are guards or wardens of the pole. As outlined in the previous pages, the prevailing option is that Ursa Major and Ursa Minor are the hunting nymph Callisto and her son, Arcas. They were transformed into bears by the enraged and imperious Juno and afterward sent to the heavens by Jupiter so they wouldn’t be destroyed by Callisto’s former huntsman companions and their dogs.

The Chinese claim that the emperor Hong-ti, grandson of Noah, first discovered the polar star and used it for navigation. It is certain in any case that it was used for this purpose in very ancient times by the Polynesians as well, a point thoroughly presented in Michener’s work, Hawaii.

From various passages in ancient writings, it is also obvious that the Phoenecians steered by Cynosura, or the Lesser Bear. The mariners of Greece and some other nations steered by the Greater Bear, which they called Helice or Helix. The American Indians, the Chaldeans, Phoenecians, and other civilizations referred to these Ursas as bears rather than dippers. The only explanation ever offered for this unique coincidence came from the brilliant Harvard scholar, Carter Lord:

“It might be argued that since both Ursa Major and Minor are inextricably involved with the fixed Polaris star they are the most important points of navigation in the entire world. When all travelers of great distance arrived at faraway lands, they had long before agreed the dipper was a bear. Once agreed upon, it was so promulgated, American Indians notwithstanding.”
Right Ascension 03:06
Diameter (°)16
Area (square °)256
Opposition May 09
Size Rank 56th
Brightness Rank 38th
GenitiveUrsae Minoris