Ursa Minor (Pronounciation:Ur-sar Mine-nore, Abbrev:UMi, Latin:Ursae Minoris) 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 Minor takes up 255.864 sq. degrees of the night sky which equates to 0.62% of the night sky. Ursa Minor is the 56th largest in terms of size in the night sky.
The constellation name means The Small 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 7 stars that make up the main constellation. The hipparcos satellite scanned and detailed 604 stars. There are 25 stars that can be seen with the naked eye in the constellation on a very clear night sky.
Ursa Minor is not a member of the Zodiac group of twelve constellations that appear when the Sun sets. Ursa Minor is a northern hemispheric constellation which means it can't be seen easily or at all from the southern hemisphere.
The distance to Ursa Minor is not calculable because all the stars that make up the constellation are at various distances. The best answer for distance to Ursa Minor is to calculate the average distance of the stars.
There are 5 Extrasolar Planets (Exoplanets) in this constellation that are detailed on this site. There is a dedicated page for exoplanets in Ursa Minor. For a list of named stars, that is stars that don't start HD or HIP, please visit Ursa Minor Star List Page.
There are no deep space objects that were identified by Charles Messier in this constellation. There are no non-Messier deep space objects in this constellation that are covered at present on this site.
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 HIP 71898 which is roughly about 35.01 Light Years from the Earth. The nearest star to the Earth with an exoplanet is HD 150706 which is about 92.06 Light Years.
The furthest star that is located in the constellation is HIP 64708 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 dimmest star that can be seen in Ursa Minor with the naked eye is HD 152303. The dim star has an apparent magnitude of 5.99. 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 most interesting star in this constellation is Polaris, the Pole Star. It is directly above the North Pole, however it won't always be the case. As the solar system orbits the Galactic Centre, Polaris will move out of place. The equivalent to this in the southern hemisphere is Polaris Australis which is the nearest star to the South Pole but not exact. Of years gone by, sailors used to navigate using the Pole Star as a guide.
Zeus had a son (Arcas) with Callisto, a mortal. In a fit of rage, Hera turned Callisto into a bear Ursa Major. 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 3 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|
|Ursids||December 17-25||Dec. 22||Kochab|
|Is a Zodiac Sign||No|
|Area||255.864 sq. deg.|
|Percentage of Night Sky||0.62%|
|Site Exoplanet Count||5|
|Meteor Shower Count||3|
|Nearest Star||HIP 71898|
|Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)||HD 150706|
|Dimmest Star||HD 152303|
|Furthest Star||HIP 64708|
|Bright Star Count||25|
|Hipparcos Star Count||604|
|Main Star Count||7|
|Messier Deep Space Object Count||0|
|*Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count||0|
|Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding Constellations||Cepheus|
*Note: The number of Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count relates to how many are covered on this site not how many there are.
The map was generated using Night Vision, an awesome free application by Brian Simpson.