The Ursa Major Constellation

481070_146586952193705_578639638_nThe Ursa Major (Great Bear) Constellation

The Big Dipper, which is only a part of the Ursa Major Constellation, forms the tail of the Great Bear. It is probably the best known and easiest group of stars in the heavens to identify in the northern Singapore sky between 8pm to 11pm on a clear night. The two stars, Dubhe and Merak, are the “Pointer Stars,” the line connecting them and extended about six times the distance between them will locate Polaris, the Northern Pole Star, which is very close to the north celestial pole, the point about which the heavens seem to rotate (we cannot see Polaris as it is too low in our horizon, and dimmed out by light pollution). Mizar in the handle of the Big Dipper has a small companion, Alcor, of the 4th magnitude. Separation of the two stars used to be considered a test of keen eyesight since ancient times. Mizar itself is a double star.

The brightest stars in the Ursa Major (UM) Constellation that can be seen by the naked eye are Dubhe, Merak, Phad (Phecda), Megrez, Alioth, Mizar, Alkaid, (ψ)Psi UM, and Tania Australis or (μ)Nu UM, Tania Borealis or (λ) Lambda UM, (θ)Theta UM, Talitha or (ι)Iota UM, and (κ)Kappa UM.