Little Dipper Constellation
Home Of The Pole Star Polaris



Actually like the

big dipper constellation the little dipper is an asterism not a constellation.

An asterism is a distict picture formed by stars within an official constellation or parts of different constellations.

Remember that a constellation is one of the 88 sections of sky used in astronomy to make finding things easier, like a map of the sky.

The constellation is Ursa Minor the "lesser" bear.

The Dipper is 7 stars within Ursa Minor.

The end star at the handle of the dipper is Polaris, the north star.

Viewing Polaris will always let you know which way is north. At the north celestial pole, Polaris will be almost directly overhead so it's also known as the Pole star.

You can use the Big Dipper to find the North star by following the two stars at the front of the dipper.

Travel about 5 times the distance between those two stars and you will find Polaris.

Because of precession Polaris will not be the pole star in about 14,000 years. At that time the north star will become Vega in the constellation Lyra.

Viewing The Dipper

Right Ascension: 15 hours

Declination: 70 degrees

Visible between latitudes 90 and -10 degrees

Best seen in June (at 9:00 PM)

Named Stars: POLARIS (Alpha UMi) KOCAB (Beta UMi) Pherkad (Gamma UMi) Yildun (Delta UMi) Pherkad Minor (11 UMi)

little dipper constellation little dipper constellation with outline

Unfortunately Ursa Minor is not filled with many interesting deep-sky objects.

The Ursa Minor dwarf galaxy resides here and at magnitude 2.0 is easily visible in binoculars.

The "engagement ring" asterism is located near Polaris. It's a circle of stars visible in binoculars and telescopes.

Ursa Minor contains no nebulae or star clusters.

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