Ursa Major Constellation Facts
The 'Big Dipper', which is part of the Ursa Major constellation, is highlighted in yellow.
- Ursa Major is visible all year in the Northern hemisphere.
- The constellation is partially visible in some northerly regions of the Southern hemisphere.
- Ursa Major is Latin for Great Bear, although the constellation is based on Greek mythology.
- Ursa Major is associated with the nearby constellation of Ursa Minor (Little Bear).
- The very recognizable Big Dipper, also known as The Plough, is part of the Ursa Major constellation.
- The Big Dipper is an asterism, which are stars which form simple patterns in the night sky, usually asterisms bare the same name as the constellation they appear in, but this is obviously not the case with the Big Dipper.
- The two stars which form the outer bowl of the Big Dipper point towards the North Star, Polaris.
- Polaris is the brightest star in the constellation of Ursa Minor.
- The tail of Great Bear includes the brightest star in the Ursa Major constellation, Alioth.
- Native North Americans also perceived the pattern of stars as a bear.
Ursa Major Mythology
An artistic representation of Ursa Major, the Great Bear.
Main Stars in the Ursa Major Constellation
The number next to each star is its apparent magnitude, its brightness from our point of view on Earth, the lower the number the brighter the star in the night sky.
Also known as Eta Ursae Majoris, Alkaid is a bluish-white main sequence star with surface temperatures around 3 times that of the sun, it's also around 3 and half times larger in radius than the sun. Mizar-Alcor
A six star system around 80 light years from Earth, Mizar consists of two pairs of binary stars while Alcor consist of one pair, the two are separated by a distance of one light year. Alioth
Also known as Eta Ursae Majoris, at a distance of around 80 light years from Earth Alioth is the brightest star in the constellation, it has surface temperatures twice that of the sun with a radius around 4 times larger. Megrez
A white main sequence star one and a half times larger in mass and radius than the sun, also known as Delta Ursae Majoris the star is around 60 light years from Earth. Dubhe
Also known as Alpha Ursae Majoris, Dubhe is an orange giant star around 120 light years from Earth, Dubhe is the second brightest star in the constellation. Muscida
At a distance of around 180 light years from Earth Muscida is a yellow giant star with a radius 14 times larger than the sun, the star is also known as Omicron Ursae Majoris. Talitha
Also known as Iota Ursae Majoris, Talitha is a four star system consisting of two pairs of binary stars around 45 light years from Earth. Merak
A white main sequence star with around three times the mass and radius of the sun, also known as Beta Ursae Majoris the star has surface temperatures around twice as hot as the sun, drawing an imaginary line through Merak and Dubhe will point you to the North star. Phecda
Another white main sequence star similar in radius and mass to Merak, also known as Gamma Ursae Majoris the star is around 80 light years from Earth. Tania Borealis
At around 140 light years from Earth this white star has around 2 and half times the mass and radius of the sun. Tania Australis
A red giant star around 240 light years from Earth, Tania Australis is around 75 times larger in radius than the sun. Alula Borealis
An orange giant star around 400 light years from Earth, Alula Borealis is around 60 times larger in radius than the sun. Alula Australis
A four star system consisting of two pairs of binary stars around 30 light years from Earth, the primary stars in both pairs are sun like stars, while their companions are thought to be red dwarfs.
Finding Ursa Major - Northern Hemisphere
Finding Ursa Major - Southern Hemisphere