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Ursa Minor


If you look back centuries, among the many asterisks, the constellation Ursa Minor is quite important. All facts indicate that ancient navigation relied on the position of stars in it. Although the Phoenicians sometimes used the Ursa Major for orientation, despite its great brightness, it gave significant inaccuracies in determining the path.

How to find Ursa Minor on Bolshaya?

Obviously, most of you will easily find Ursa Major. She is quite expressive and bright. Knowing that both constellations are nearby, it will undoubtedly become clear how to find Ursa Minor by Ursa Major. To do this, you will need to mentally connect the last two stars of the Ursa Major: from Merak (β Ursa Major) to Dubha (α Ursa Major)), continuing this line upward at a distance 5 times greater than the distance between them. This is how you discover Alpha (the Polar Star) of the constellation Ursa Minor.

Before you wonder how to find the constellation Ursa Minor, knowing only the location of the Polar, you need to understand what shape the luminaries form, and how the asterisk is located relative to the Big Bucket.

Knowledge is power

Examine the star map before starting the search, this will facilitate the search for the asterisk. Subsequently, you will verify the ease of detection of the desired star group. And if someone asks you how to find Ursa Minor by Ursa Major, with full knowledge of the matter, you can clearly explain how to find it.

Well, now we know how to find the constellation Ursa Minor. Let's talk about the North Star, thanks to which travelers and seafarers of the past made a long and difficult journey. Although this is not the brightest star in the night sky, but it is located closer to the northern point of the world, the error does not exceed 1 °. After only 145 years, the position error will exceed one degree.

"Spins" the bear by the tail on the earth's axis

The North Star does not change its position, despite the Earth’s daily rotation around its own axis and annual orbit around the Sun. The brightness of the guiding star is variable and changes in intensity with a frequency of 4 days, within 2.02 ± 2%. Previously, the luminosity amplitude was higher, today it has stabilized. The total brightness of the North Star is constantly growing and over the past hundred years has increased by almost 15%.

The nature of the pulsation is associated with the property of the luminary; this is how Cepheids behave. The guiding star is one of the brightest Cepheids in the night sky.
Ursa Minor occupies an area of ​​about 255.9 square degrees in the sky. Its closest neighbors are Dragon, Cepheus.

Ursa Minor and its stars

The constellation of the Small Bucket includes seven bright objects. Of all the stars of Ursa Minor, only three of the brightest are clearly visible. These are Ferkhad and Kokhab, forming the wall of the Bucket, and crown the handle of the constellation Polar Star. The last two stars are located above the tail of Ursa Major.

The Small Bucket is slightly different from other constellations. It does not change the location in the sky, like Ursa Major and most other asterisk that are seasonal. They can be observed in a certain season, and they are mobile in the sky for a year. Ursa Minor also changes its location, revolving around its Alpha.

Alpha and Omega of the Ursa Minor Constellation in the Northern Hemisphere

Alpha (North Star) Ursa Minor is located at a distance of 431 light years from Earth. With a visible value of 2.02. As it became known, this is not one, but three stars, united in a single system. The brightest among them, almost 2 thousand times greater than the brightness of the Sun. The second star of Ursa Minor has a mass equal to 1.39 solar.

Cohab is an orange giant translated from the Arabic Star of the North. The second brightest star, it is beta, in the constellation of the Small Bucket with a magnitude of 2.8 and is 126 light-years distant from Earth.

Ferkhad - gamma Ursa Minor, with a magnitude of 3.6, the distance to it is 480 light years. This object is considered to be a hot giant with a temperature of 8600 K and refers to a variable type of stars.

The Small Bucket Delta, or Yildun, is a white dwarf that is located 183 light years away.

Zeta is another dwarf, white and located at a distance of 380 light years from Earth. The intensity of its glow is 200 times higher than that of the Sun. He is on the path of formation into a giant star.

The North Star won't let you down.

It may not be possible to remember all this, but still your knowledge has become more extensive. And if you suddenly get lost in the forest, and there is no mobile connection, try to remember how to find Ursa Minor along Ursa Major. You will certainly find the North Star and find out in what direction the north is.

The sky is full of secrets and unknown secrets

Even without a telescope, just looking towards the night luminaries, you will see how diverse our large universe is.

But is this the universe in reality? This thought excites the minds of great scientists. They hypothesize, research, argue, and try to understand if this is so. Some experts are of the opinion that the Universe is infinite, while others - that the Multiverse exists.

And it may well turn out that in one of them there is the same planet, country and copy of you. Everything is possible, science constantly pushes the curtain of the unknown and hidden from our eyes, proving invariably: what seems like science fiction today, becomes reality tomorrow.


The brightest stars of the constellation:

  • North Star (α UMi). Magnitude 2.02 m.
  • Cohab (β UMi). Visible magnitude 2.08 m. In the period from approximately 2000 BC. e. 500 year n. e. Cohab was the brightest star closest to the North Pole of the world and played the role of a polar star, as reflected in its Arabic name Cohab al-shemali (Star of the North).
  • Ferkad (γ UMi). Magnitude 3.05 m.
  • Yildun (δ UMi). Visible magnitude 4.36 m.

Asterism Small Bucket forms a characteristic memorable figure in the sky. It includes seven stars - α (Polar), β (Kokhab), γ (Ferkad), δ, ε, ζ and η of Ursa Minor. The Small Dipper is reminiscent of the shape of the asterism Big Dipper, located not far from the constellation Ursa Major.

A pair of extreme Bucket stars (Kochab and Ferkad) represent asterism Guardians of the Pole.

According to Gigin, Thales of Miletus introduced this constellation into ancient astronomy, including it in the catalog of the starry sky of Claudius Ptolemy's Almagest.

The Greeks regarded the constellation Ursa Major as the nymph Callisto, and Ursa Minor as her dog. According to Greek myths, Zeus seduced the nymph of Artemis, Callisto. She gave birth to a son Arcade. Saving the nymph and his child from revenge, Zeus transferred them to heaven, Callisto - the Bear, and his son - Bootes.

With Ursa Minor the legend of the birth of Zeus is also connected. To save her son from the father of Kron, who was eating his children, the goddess Rhea took Zeus to the top of Mount Ida, in a sacred cave, and left Melissa (or two nymphs Melissa and Kinosura) in the care of the nymphs and their mother. In gratitude, Zeus later ascended to heaven Melissa in the form of Big and Kinosur in the form of Ursa Minor. In the early versions of the myth of Melissa and Kinosur, the she-bears later transformed into nymphs. On ancient maps, Ursa Minor (or only the North Star) is sometimes called Kinosura ("dog tail»).

Also, these legends explained why the Bears, Big and Small, with tails: according to legend, Zeus first turned the nymphs into bears, and then pulled them by the tails into the sky, stretching them.

According to Arat, the constellation was called "Little Chariot"resembling The Great Chariot (Ursa Major).

The Phoenicians, the best sailors of early antiquity, used the constellation for navigational purposes. They noticed the immobility of the constellation in the northern part of the sky and used this fact to walk the Mediterranean Sea, which allowed them to dominate the seas for almost 1000 years. Therefore, the North Star was called "Phoenician" or "Phoenician".

The peoples of Kazakhstan called the North Star “an iron nail” (Temir-Kazyk), driven into the sky, and in the remaining stars of Ursa Minor saw a lasso tied to this nail, worn on the neck of a Horse (constellation Ursa Major).

Arabs mistook Ursa Minor stars for horsemen, and the Persians saw in her seven fruits of a date palm.

The Indians associated the constellation with a monkey that revolves around the pole of the world, clinging to its tail.

The Romans bore the name "Spartan dogs."

Julius Schiller in his atlas “Christian Starry Sky” in 1627 placed the constellation under the name “Archangel Michael”.

In ancient Babylon, the constellation was depicted as a leopard.

What does the constellation Ursa Minor look like?

To learn how to find Ursa Minor in the sky, you first need to know what this small constellation looks like. Unlike the constellation Ursa Major, which is much larger than the Big Dipper, Ursa Minor is almost entirely composed of the Small Dipper. You can even say that the Small Bucket is actually the constellation Ursa Minor. (A few more dim stars around and inside the bucket are of little interest to us.)

Therefore, the search for the constellation in the sky is limited to us by the search for the Small Bucket. Here's what it looks like:

Ursa Minor constellation on the map. Figure: IAU / Big Universe

Unlike the right and beautiful Big Bucket, a somewhat ridiculous design, isn't it? The bucket's quadrangle looks more like a box, and its handle bends strangely upward. If we recall that among the ancient Greeks who invented the constellation, it was not a pen, but a long, non-existent tail of a bear, it becomes even funny: the tail of a bear is pulled up like a mutton!

Note: Ursa Minor is far from such a bright constellation as Ursa Major. In truth, she has only three more or less bright stars. Therefore, for her search in the sky you need a little experience and a drop of patience.

How to find Ursa Minor in the sky?

Now, by presenting in general terms what we are looking for, we can begin to search.

The easiest way to find Ursa Minor is with the help of the Polar Star (aka Ursa Minor), the main star of this constellation. And where is Polyarnaya? To see her, you must first find the Big Bucket.

In autumn and winter, the Ursa Major bucket is visible in the north low above the horizon, in spring evenings - in the east in an upright position with the handle down, and in summer - in the west with the handle up. For more details, see the article How to find Ursa Major in the sky.

Now, through the extreme stars in the Big Bucket - α and β of the Big Dipper - mentally draw a long, slightly curved line from the “bottom” of the bucket to its “hole” and further. The pole star is approximately five times the distance between the stars α and β of Ursa Major. In brightness, it is approximately equal to these stars. This is an important point: The North Star is not at all the brightest star in the sky!

The constellation Ursa Minor is easiest to find, starting from its brightest star - Polaris. You should search for it on the continuation of the line connecting the extreme stars of the Big Bucket - Dubhe and Merak (see text). Pattern: Stellarium

The North Star marks the end of the handle of the Small Bucket, while the bucket itself stretches from it towards the bucket of the Big Dipper. Remember that unlike the Big Bucket, the handle of the Small Bucket is curved in the opposite direction.

The composition of the Small Bucket, as well as the Big, includes 7 stars. However, the stars of the Small Bucket vary greatly in brightness. Only its three brightest stars - α, β and γ - can be found in the illuminated city sky. polar Star, it’s α Ursa Minor, located on the tip of the handle of the Small Bucket, and the stars Cohab (β Ursa Minor) and Fercade (γ Ursa Minorum) form the front wall of the bucket.

Small bucket in the sky

Four other stars of the Small Bucket are so faint that they are not always visible in the city sky. Perhaps this is why inexperienced astronomy enthusiasts very often incorrectly recognize the Small Bucket, managing to take even the tiny Pleiades bucket for it.

In conditions of urban flare it is difficult to identify Ursa Minor. In the red sky, four of the seven stars of the Small Bucket are not visible. Only the North Star (above) and the Guardians of the Pole, the stars of Kokhab and Ferkad, remain. Pattern: Stellarium

Nevertheless, having seen the Small Bucket at least once, you are unlikely to ever lose it. Why? Very simple: this figure is always, at any time of the year or day, located in approximately the same part of the sky. Unlike many constellations, it does not rise and does not go beyond the horizon. She doesn't even describe circles, like Ursa Major.

The Small Bucket looks like a giant celestial arrow attached to a fixed North Star. This arrow rotates, making a full revolution in exactly one day. (This distinguishes it from the usual clock hands, which makes a circle in 12 hours.) So, the Ursa Minor stars can be used to orient in time. Of course, if you know how.

The position of Ursa Minor in the sky in the evening, depending on the time of year. Figure: The Great Universe

If you consider that the North Star helps to accurately determine the cardinal points, then Ursa Minor turns out to be an extremely useful constellation!

What does the constellation Ursa Minor look like?

Ursa Minor is located next to the Big and forms a small bucket. By connecting the line all the stars entering into it, we get the same vessel, familiar from childhood.

The very accumulation of celestial bodies is rather dim, and it is easier to find it in a dark sky.

To see this constellation with the naked eye, you need to find the North Star, which, due to its size and brightness, will be the first to catch the eye.

The brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor

The brightest point in the sky seems to be such only for human eyes. In fact, there are many brighter objects. However, the North Star shines more spectacularly than the others. She is a supergiant and has two satellites.

The star itself is central, and its brightness exceeds the capabilities of the Sun 2,000 times. The existence of the second satellite became known not so long ago because of its size. The dwarf satellite has not been shown to photographic lenses of telescopes from the Earth for many years.

The name of the stars in the constellation Ursa Minor

The constellation is formed of several parts. In terms of brightness, they are inferior to neighbors from the Big Bucket, nevertheless they are clearly visible in the clear sky.

Four of them have their own names, the rest are called letters of the Greek alphabet:

  1. Alpha. The first in the constellation, also called Polar. The brightest in the night sky.
  2. Beta. Another name is Cohab. The second brightest star cluster. She has a satellite and is an orange giant.
  3. Gamma is Ferkad. Beta and the gamma of the constellation translated from Arabic means "two calves."
  4. Delta, Epsilon, Zita and Ita have no special names.

All of them are distant from Earth for more than 400 light years.

How to find the North Star in the sky

The easiest way to find the North Star is the Ursa Major. Brightly burning parts of this constellation can be seen year-round in Russia and several other countries of the northern hemisphere. They are a large bucket.

From the extreme points that draw his image, you need to mentally draw a line exceeding the length between this segment by five times.

Another way to find Cepheid is to use a compass. The North Star is a guide for travelers. She directed them to the North Pole.

Watching the luminary, you can see that it is the only one that does not change position. With the passage of night, all the constellations move through the night sky, and it freezes motionless over the North Pole.

Why are the constellations called dipper

The appearance of the constellations does not even remotely resemble either a brown or a white beast. Then why weren't they called “buckets”? It is believed that the name came from the Greeks, who knew about the proximity to the North Pole.

The map was a great luxury, so they were guided by the sky. Their assumption, even in 545 BC, turned out to be true.

Who is the main inhabitant of the North Pole? Of course, a bear. Hence the name of the two constellations, located near the northernmost point of the planet.

Myths and legends of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor

The existence of constellations has been known for a very long time. Even before our era, they were travel guides for travelers. However, for the ancient Greeks, they were not just bright points in the sky.

According to myths, once the god of thunder Zeus had a secret lover. The story says that she was famous for unearthly beauty and attracted the views of all men. Her name was Callisto.

Once a girl broke the rules, her little mistake cost her dear. She was turned into a terrible dipper. Zeus, deciding to protect the beauty, threw her into the sky, and tried so hard that he stretched his tail. Therefore, it is now so long at Ursa Major.

The faithful companion of the girl was her dog, which was turned into a teddy bear, following her to heaven. The tale was distributed among the ancient Greeks.

Просторы звездного неба могут показать множество необычных вещей. Даже о привычных всем медведицах можно узнать много интересного. Сколько еще неизвестных созвездий кроется на просторах космоса? Знания открывают человеку окно в мир нашей Вселенной.