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Ursa Minor, The Small Bear Constellation Facts and Mythology

Ursa Minor Constellation Star Map

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 image at the top right of this page was generated using Night Vision, a free to use and download application by Brian Simspon.

Ursa Minor Star Facts

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.

HIP 71898, Nearest Star

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.

HIP 64708, Furthest Star

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.

HD 152303, Dimmest Visible Star

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.

Polaris, the Pole Star

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.

Ursa Minor Mythology

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.

Meteor Showers Radiating from Ursa Minor

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.

NameActivityPeak ActivityClosest Star
Ursids December 17-25Dec. 22Kochab

Ursa Minor Facts


NameUrsa Minor
AbbreviationUMi
Is a Zodiac Sign No
Brightest StarPolaris
Area255.864 sq. deg.
Percentage of Night Sky0.62%
Size Position56th
Hemisphere Northern
Site Exoplanet Count5
Meteor Shower Count3
Nearest StarHIP 71898
Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)HD 150706
Brightest StarPolaris
Dimmest StarHD 152303
Furthest StarHIP 64708
Bright Star Count25
Hipparcos Star Count604
Main Star Count7
Messier Deep Space Object Count0
*Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count0
Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding ConstellationsCepheus
Camelopardalis
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.



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