Ursa Major and Ursa Minor (Roll over image for constellation lines and labels)   HOME INDEX BACK NEXT

Ursa Major, the big bear, and Ursa Minor, the little bear, are more commonly known as the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper. The Big Dipper's distictive shape and seven bright stars make it one of the best-known constellations. The two stars at the end of the Big Dipper's bowl are called the "Pointers" because they point to Polaris, the North Star. The middle star in the Big Dipper's handle is a double star (Mizar and Alcor), and the two stars are not hard to see with the naked eye.

Polaris marks the end of the Little Dipper's handle, but the rest of the constellation is harder to identify because some of its stars are dim and cannot be seen from areas where there is moderate light pollution. See if you can find the Little Dipper in this photo before rolling the cursor over the image to reveal the constellation lines.

This photo was taken from a location with very dark skies--the top of Haleakala Crater in Maui, at an elevation of about 10,000 feet. 

Image details:  A 30-second exposure at ISO 1600, taken with a Canon 400D camera at a focal length of 35 mm.

August 2007