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Ursa Major, The Big Bear Constellation

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. The constellation gets its name as it 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.

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 brightest star in Ursa Major is Alioth. There are 27 Extrasolar Planets (Exoplanets) in this constellation that are detailed on this site. There is a dedicated page for exoplanets in Ursa Major. The current largest star so far identified in the constellation of Ursa Major is Polaris. For a list of named stars, that is stars that don't start HD or HIP, please visit Ursa Major Star List Page.

Ursa Major Star and Deep Space Object Count

The number of stars that have been catalogued as part of the Hipparcos Star Catalogue from Ursa Major is 3546. The number of stars that are of magnitude 6.0 or lower in the constellation is 122. The number of stars in the constellation that make up the outline is 20.

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.

Stars of Interest

The nearest star to Earth is Lalande 21185 which is roughly about 8.31 Light Years from the Earth. The nearest star to the Earth with an exoplanet is Lalande 21185 which is about 8.31 Light Years. The furthest star that can be located in the constellation is HIP 50917 which is located about 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 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 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.

Ursa Majoris Mythological Legend

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 no major meteor showers that radiate from within this constellation.

Ursa Major Facts

NameUrsa Major
Is a Zodiac Sign No
Largest StarPolaris
Brightest StarAlioth
Area1279.66 sq. deg.
Percentage of Night Sky3.1%
Size Position3rd
Hemisphere Northern
Site Exoplanet Count27
Meteor Shower Count26
Nearest StarLalande 21185
Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)Lalande 21185
Dimmest StarHIP 40889
Furthest StarHIP 50917
Bright Star Count122
Hipparcos Star Count3546
Main Star Count20
Messier Deep Space Object Count8
*Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count2
Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding ConstellationsDraco
Leo Minor
Coma Berenices
Canes Venatici

*Note: The number of Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count relates to how many are covered on this site not how many there are.

Ursa Major Constellation Map

Ursa Major Constellation Star Map

The map was generated using Night Vision, an awesome free application by Brian Simpson.

List of Deep Space Objects (Galaxies, Nebulas, Supernovas, etc) in Ursa Major

NameTypeDistanceDeclinationRight Ascension
ARP 214 (NGC3178)Galaxy47.84 Million LY53` 04` 04.1811h 32m 34m 940
Bodes Galaxy (M81, NGC3031)Spiral Galaxy11,400-12,200 kly+69:0409h 55m 6
Cigar Galaxy (M82, NGC3034)Irregular Galaxy10,700-12,300 kly+69:41`09h 55m 8
GN-z11Galaxy32 Billion Light Years62d 14' 31.412h 36m 25m 46
Messier 108 (NGC3556)Spiral Galaxy46000000+55:4011h 11m 5
Messier 109 (NGC3992)Spiral Galaxy59,500-107,500 kly+53:2311h 57m 6
NGC 2787Lenticular Galaxy24+69:1209h 19h 18m 5
NGC 3982Intermediate Spiral Galazy68+55:7.3111h 56m 28
Owl Nebula (M97, NGC3587)Planetary Nebula2030+55:0111h 14m 8
Pinwheel Galaxy (M101, NGC5457)Spiral Galaxy19,100-22,400 kly+54:2114h 03m 2
Spindle Galaxy (M102)Spiral Galaxy ( Maybe 101 )50000000+55:4615h 06m 5
Winnecke 4 (M40)Double Star510+58:0512h 22m 4

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