Ursa Major (Pronounciation:Ur-sar May-jore, Abbrev:UMa, Latin:Ursae Majoris) is a constellation, one of 88 constellations that the night sky is divided into. The sky is not divided up equally between the constellations. Ursa Major takes up 1279.66 sq. degrees of the night sky which equates to 3.1% of the night sky. Ursa Major is the 3rd largest in terms of size in the night sky.
The constellation name means The Big Bear . The constellation is one of the original constellations that was devised by the Ancient Greco-Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy who lived between 90 A.D. and 168 A.D.
There are 20 stars that make up the main constellation. The hipparcos satellite scanned and detailed 3546 stars. There are 122 stars that can be seen with the naked eye in the constellation on a very clear night sky.
Ursa Major is not a member of the Zodiac group of twelve constellations that appear when the Sun sets. Ursa Major is a northern hemispheric constellation which means it can't be seen easily or at all from the southern hemisphere.
The distance to Ursa Major is not calculable because all the stars that make up the constellation are at various distances. The best answer for distance to Ursa Major is to calculate the average distance of the stars.
There are 8 deep space objects that were identified by Charles Messier in this constellation. There are 2 non-Messier deep space objects that are covered on this site and the list is below.
The image at the top right of this page was generated using Night Vision, a free to use and download application by Brian Simspon.
The caveat of these stars are that they are catalogued on this site. If you know of a star that is nearer or further then do let me know in the comments and I'll add it to the site. The stars mentioned are from the Hipparcos catalogue or have been added because of their special status.
The nearest star to Earth is Lalande 21185 which is roughly about 8.31 Light Years from the Earth. Lalande 21185 is also the nearest star in the constellation of Ursa Major with at least one orbiting exoplanet.
The furthest star that is located in the constellation is HIP 50917 and it is 326163.3 light years away from the Sun. The furthest figure is derived from either the 1997 or 2007 Hipparcos star catalogue parallax figure and it has been known to produce distances that are wrong.
The brightest star in Ursa Major is Alioth and is located about 128.87 light years from the Sun. The star has a apparent magnitude of 1.76 but an absolute magnitude of -0.26 when the star is viewed from a distance of 10 Parsecs or 32.6 Light Years. The star is only recognised as being Epsilon Ursae Majoris rather than having Alpha status.
The dimmest star that can be seen in Ursa Major with the naked eye is HIP 40889. The dim star has an apparent magnitude of 6. The dimmest star that a person is able to see with their naked eye is 6.0 magnitude based on the table in the reference. Ref: University of Michigan.
The star is a zombie star, this means it will explode in a supernova and then come as back as normal. What marks IPTF14HLS out as special is that it has gone through the supernova process and come back to life on multiple occasions. Its supernova explosions are too far away to have any effect on us here on Earth.
M82 x2 is a pulsar and one that breaks the Eddington Limit. The Eddington Limit is a theoretical limit on how bright a star should be for its given mass. It is named after Sir Arthur Eddington who devised the limit in the first part of the twentieth century.
The more norrth you are, the more likely you are to get a good glimpse of this object. In London, you will be able to see this constellation all year round. The worst time is October and November when it is ats lowest in the sky. If you can stay up late, it is best to see about 11pm in May. May to September provide for a good view about 10 p.m if you can stay up later.
The constellation is predominantly a northern hemisphere constellation so if you don't get to see it, you know why. You will not be able to see this constellation if you are in Sydney. You would need to move a little more north. You are able to see this constellation on the horizon clear from April at about 9 p.m. If you want to see it earlier, you would need to stay up a little late. The constellation is visible from a north-easterly direction. The constellation will start disappearing in June.
Zeus had a son (Arcas) with Callisto. In a fit of rage, Hera turned Callisto into a bear. When Arcas nearly killed his mother as he didn't know who she was, Zeus turned Arcas into a bear Ursa Minor and sent them to the stars.
There are 26 Meteor Showers that occur during the year within this constellation based on information gathered from Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland). The list below are major ones and which I have a date period for.
|Name||Activity||Peak Activity||Closest Star|
|nu Ursae Majorids||15th May|
The following list contains the stars that make up the constellation. For a larger list of stars in the entire constellation area, please visit the For a list of named stars, that is stars that don't start HD or HIP, please visit Ursa Major Star List page.
|Name||Bayer||Distance (Lt.Yr.)||Right Ascension||Declination||Spectral Type||Colour|
|Dubhe||Alpha Ursae Majoris||122.90||11h 03m 43.84||+61d 45` 04.0||F7V comp||Yellow/White|
|Merak||Beta Ursae Majoris||79.75||11h 01m 50.39||+56d 22` 56.4||A1V||White|
|Phecda||Gamma Ursae Majoris||83.18||11h 53m 49.74||+53d 41` 41.0||A0V SB||White|
|Megrez||Delta Ursae Majoris||80.51||12h 15m 25.45||+57d 01` 57.4||A3Vvar||White|
|Alioth||Epsilon Ursae Majoris||82.55||12h 54m 01.63||+55d 57` 35.4||A0p||White|
|Alkaid||Eta Ursae Majoris||103.94||13h 47m 32.55||+49d 18` 47.9||B3V SB||Blue/White|
|Sarir||Theta Ursae Majoris||43.96||09h 32m 52.33||+51d 40` 43.0||F6IV||Yellow/White|
|Talitha||Iota Ursae Majoris||47.32||08h 59m 12.84||+48d 02` 32.5||A7IV||White|
|Alkaphrah||Kappa Ursae Majoris||358.42||09h 03m 37.56||+47d 09` 24.0||A1Vn||White|
|Tania Borealis||Lambda Ursae Majoris||137.51||10h 17m 05.93||+42d 54` 52.1||A2IV||White|
|Tania Australis||Mu Ursae Majoris||230.34||10h 22m 19.80||+41d 29` 58.0||M0III SB||Red|
|Alula Borealis||Nu Ursae Majoris||399.22||11h 18m 28.76||+33d 05` 39.3||K3III SB||Orange|
|Muscida||Omicron Ursae Majoris||179.11||08h 30m 16.03||+60d 43` 06.4||G4II-III||Yellow|
|Upsilon Ursae Majoris||Upsilon Ursae Majoris||116.24||09h 50m 59.69||+59d 02` 20.8||F0IV||Yellow/White|
|Phi Ursae Majoris||Phi Ursae Majoris||508.84||09h 52m 06.36||+54d 03` 51.4||A3IV||White|
|Taiyangshou||Chi Ursae Majoris||183.65||11h 46m 03.13||+47d 46` 45.6||K0III||Orange|
|Psi Ursae Majoris||Psi Ursae Majoris||144.51||11h 09m 39.86||+44d 29` 54.8||K1III||Orange|
|Alcor||81.72||13h 25m 13.42||+54d 59` 16.8||A5V SB||White|
|25 Leonis Minoris||685.22||10h 21m 03.67||+41d 50` 57.8||A0||White|
|23 Ursae Majoris||77.68||09h 31m 31.57||+63d 03` 42.5||F0IV||Yellow/White|
|Is a Zodiac Sign||No|
|Area||1279.66 sq. deg.|
|Percentage of Night Sky||3.1%|
|Site Exoplanet Count||28|
|Meteor Shower Count||26|
|Nearest Star||Lalande 21185|
|Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)||Lalande 21185|
|Dimmest Star||HIP 40889|
|Furthest Star||HIP 50917|
|Bright Star Count||122|
|Hipparcos Star Count||3546|
|Main Star Count||20|
|Messier Deep Space Object Count||8|
|Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding Constellations||Draco|
*Note: The number of Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count relates to how many are covered on this site not how many there are.
|ARP 214 (NGC3178)||Galaxy||47.84 Million LY||53` 04` 04.18||11h 32m 34m 940|
|Bode's Galaxy (M81, NGC3031)||Spiral Galaxy||11,400-12,200 kly||+69:04||09h 55m 6|
|Cigar Galaxy (M82, NGC3034)||Irregular Galaxy||10,700-12,300 kly||+69:41`||09h 55m 8|
|GN-z11||Galaxy||32 Billion Light Years||62d 14' 31.4||12h 36m 25m 46|
|Messier 108 (NGC3556)||Spiral Galaxy||46000000||+55:40||11h 11m 5|
|Messier 109 (NGC3992)||Spiral Galaxy||59,500-107,500 kly||+53:23||11h 57m 6|
|NGC 2787||Lenticular Galaxy||24||+69:12||09h 19h 18m 5|
|NGC 2841||Unbarred Spiral Galaxy||30 Million LY||+50:58:35||09h 22h 02m 6|
|NGC 3077||Small Galaxy (Peculiar)||12.8 Million Ly||68:44:02||10h 03h 19m 1|
|NGC 3982||Intermediate Spiral Galaxy||68||+55:7.31||11h 56m 28|
|Owl Nebula (M97, NGC3587)||Planetary Nebula||2030||+55:01||11h 14m 8|
|Pinwheel Galaxy (M101, NGC5457)||Spiral Galaxy||19,100-22,400 kly||+54:21||14h 03m 2|
|Winnecke 4 (M40)||Star Cluster (Double Star)||510||+58:05||12h 22m 4|
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