Let The Big Dipper Constellation
Guide You Through The Northern Sky
The form of the Big Dipper constellation is a very recognizable shape.
Except, technically the seven stars that make up the dippers,
both big and little, are not actually constellations.
Constellations are areas of the sky used by astronomers as a guide to finding
objects of interest. They are named for the shapes and pictures they represent
but often contain more area than just the stars that form that picture.
The dippers are actually asterisms, pictures within larger constellations.
The Big Dipper is formed from stars that are part of the constellation
Ursa Major,the great or big bear, just as the
Little Dipper constellation
is made from stars of the constellation Ursa Minor, the lesser
or little bear.
How The Big Dipper Constellation Guides Your Way
Right Ascension: 11 hours
Declination: 50 degrees
Visible between latitudes 90 and -30 degrees
Best seen in April (at 9:00 PM)
DUBHE (Alpha UMa)
MERAK (Beta UMa)
PHAD (Gamma UMa)
MEGREZ (Delta UMa)
ALIOTH (Epsilon UMa)
MIZAR (Zeta UMa)
ALCOR (80 UMa)
Once you find and identify the Big Dipper you can use it to
find many other stars and constellations.
Starting at the front of the dipper, imagine a line heading up
away from the dipper. This will bring you to Polaris, the north star.
Polaris is also the last star in the handle of the Little Dipper.
Continuing on from Polaris will bring you to
which is shaped like a W.
Traveling on will bring you to the great square of Pegasus, in the
From the corner of Pegasus you will find the
"Arc to Arcturus and Speed to Spica."
Follow the curve of the handle of the Big Dipper
and you will "Arc to Arcturus", a bright star in
and continuing on the same curve, if it hasn't set
below the horizon yet, you will "speed
to Spica", which is in the
The two stars at the back of the bowl are guides also.
From the top of the back stars heading up will bring you to
Deneb, the tail of the swan Cygnus.
In the other direction heading down from the dipper's bowl
will bring you to Regulus, the brighest star in
Leo the constellation of the lion
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