Universe Guide

Dubhe (Alpha Ursae Majoris, 50 Ursae Majoris) Star Facts

Dubhe Facts

  • Dubhe is a main sequence star that can be located in the constellation of Ursa Major. The description is based on the spectral class.
  • Dubhe is a main star of the constellation outline.
  • Based on the spectral type (F7V comp) of the star, the star's colour is yellow to white .
  • Dubhe is the 34th brightest star in the night sky and the 2nd brightest star in Ursa Major based on the Hipparcos 2007 apparent magnitude. The star can be seen with the naked eye, that is, you don't need a telescope/binoculars to see it.
  • Using the most recent figures given by the 2007 Hipparcos data, the star is 122.90 light years away from us. Distance

Information on Dubhe

Dubhe might have the honour of the Alpha Flamesteed classification, it is not the brightest star in the constellation of Ursa Major, the Big Bear. The brightest star in the constellation is in fact Alioth which is on the tail of the bear. It has a companion star which is 23 times as far from the main star as the Earth is to our Sun. It takes about 44.4 years to orbit round the master star. 1

Dubhe's Alternative Names

Alpha Ursae Majoris (Alf Uma) is the Bayer Classification for the star. The Bayer Classification was created by Johann Bayer in 1603. The brightest star in the constellation is normally given the Alpha designation, there are exceptions such as Pollux which is Beta Geminorum.

The Id of the star in the Yale Bright Star Catalogue is HR4301. HIP54061 is the reference name for the star in the Hipparcos Star Catalogue. The Id of the star in the Henry Draper catalogue is HD95689. In Arabic, it is known as Ad-Dubb.

Flamsteed designations are named after the creator, Sir John Flamsteed. Sir John named the stars in the constellation with a number and its latin name, this star's Flamsteed designation is 50 Ursae Majoris. The Flamsteed name can be shortened to 50 Uma.

BD number is the number that the star was filed under in the Durchmusterung or Bonner Durchmusterung, a star catalogue that was put together by the Bonn Observatory between 1859 to 1903. The star's BD Number is BD+62 1161.

More details on objects' alternative names can be found at Star Names .

Location of Dubhe

The location of the main sequence star in the night sky is determined by the Right Ascension (R.A.) and Declination (Dec.), these are equivalent to the Longitude and Latitude on the Earth. The Right Ascension is how far expressed in time (hh:mm:ss) the star is along the celestial equator. If the R.A. is positive then its eastwards. The Declination is how far north or south the object is compared to the celestial equator and is expressed in degrees. For Dubhe, the location is 11h 03m 43.84 and +61° 45` 04.0 .

Radial Velocity and Proper Motion of Dubhe

Proper Motion

All stars like planets orbit round a central spot, in the case of planets, its the central star such as the Sun. In the case of a star, its the galactic centre. The constellations that we see today will be different than they were 50,000 years ago or 50,000 years from now. Proper Motion details the movements of these stars and are measured in milliarcseconds. The star is moving -34.70 ± 0.31 milliarcseconds/year towards the north and -134.11 ± 0.48 milliarcseconds/year east if we saw them in the horizon.

Radial Velocity

The Radial Velocity, that is the speed at which the star is moving away/towards the Sun is -9.40000 km/s with an error of about 0.30 km/s . When the value is negative then the star and the Sun are getting closer to one another, likewise, a positive number means that two stars are moving away. Its nothing to fear as the stars are so far apart, they won't collide in our life-time, if ever.

Physical Properties of Dubhe

Dubhe Colour and Temperature

Based on the star's spectral type of F7V comp , Dubhe's colour and type is yellow to white main sequence star. The star's effective temperature is 4,660 Kelvin which is cooler than our own Sun's effective Temperature which is 5,777 Kelvin

Dubhe Luminosity

Luminosity is the amount of energy that a star pumps out and its relative to the amount that our star, the Sun gives out. The figure of 345.99 that I have given is based on the value in the Simbad Hipparcos Extended Catalogue at the University of Strasbourg from 2012.

Dubhe Radius

Dubhe estimated radius has been calculated as being 22.81 times bigger than the Sun. The Sun's radius is 695,800km, therefore the star's radius is an estimated 15,869,931.26.km. If you need the diameter of the star, you just need to multiple the radius by 2. However with the 2007 release of updated Hipparcos files, the radius is now calculated at being round 22.70338025535481347404936849. The figure is derived at by using the formula from SDSS rather than peer reviewed papers. It has been known to produce widely incorrect figures.

Dubhe Mass

The Dubhe's solar mass is 4.25 times that of our star, the Sun. The Sun's Mass is 1,989,100,000,000,000,000,000 billion kg. which to calculate using this website is too large. To give idea of size, the Sun is 99.86% the mass of the solar system.

Dubhe Iron Abundance

Dubhe Iron Abundance is -0.15 with an error value of 9.99 Fe/H with the Sun has a value of 1 to put it into context. The value comes from the Hipparcos Extended Catalog.

Dubhe Apparent and Absolute Magnitudes

Dubhe has an apparent magnitude of 1.81 which is how bright we see the star from Earth. Apparent Magnitude is also known as Visual Magnitude. If you used the 1997 Parallax value, you would get an absolute magnitude of -1.08 If you used the 2007 Parallax value, you would get an absolute magnitude of -1.07. Magnitude, whether it be apparent/visual or absolute magnitude is measured by a number, the smaller the number, the brighter the Star is. Our own Sun is the brightest star and therefore has the lowest of all magnitudes, -26.74. A faint star will have a high number.

Distance to Dubhe

Using the original Hipparcos data that was released in 1997, the parallax to the star was given as 26.38000 which gave the calculated distance to Dubhe as 123.64 light years away from Earth or 37.91 parsecs. If you want that in miles, it is about 726,833,241,140,421.54, based on 1 Ly = 5,878,625,373,183.61 miles.

In 2007, Hipparcos data was revised with a new parallax of 26.54000 which put Dubhe at a distance of 122.90 light years or 37.68 parsecs. It should not be taken as though the star is moving closer or further away from us. It is purely that the distance was recalculated.

Using the 2007 distance, the star is roughly 7,772,003.74 Astronomical Units from the Earth/Sun give or take a few. An Astronomical Unit is the distance between Earth and the Sun. The number of A.U. is the number of times that the star is from the Earth compared to the Sun. The star's Galacto-Centric Distance is 7,419.00 Parsecs or 24,198.06 Light Years. The Galacto-Centric Distance is the distance from the star to the Centre of the Galaxy which is Sagittarius A*.

Travel Time to Dubhe

The time it will take to travel to this star is dependent on how fast you are going. U.G. has done some calculations as to how long it will take going at differing speeds. A note about the calculations, when I'm talking about years, I'm talking non-leap years only (365 days).

The New Horizons space probe is the fastest probe that we've sent into space at the time of writing. Its primary mission was to visit Pluto which at the time of launch (2006), Pluto was still a planet.

DescriptionSpeed (m.p.h.)Time (years)
Airbus A380736111,982,043.08
Speed of Sound (Mach 1)767.269107,418,367.88
Concorde (Mach 2)1,534.5453,709,113.94
New Horizons Probe33,0002,497,538.90
Speed of Light670,616,629.00122.90

Source of Information

The source of the information if it has a Hip I.D. is from Simbad, the Hipparcos data library based at the University at Strasbourg, France. Hipparcos was a E.S.A. satellite operation launched in 1989 for four years. The items in red are values that I've calculated so they could well be wrong. Information regarding Metallicity and/or Mass is from the E.U. Exoplanets. The information was obtained as of 12th Feb 2017.

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Additional Dubhe Facts and Figures

Visual Facts

Primary / Proper / Traditional NameDubhe
Alternative NamesAlpha Ursae Majoris, Alf Uma, Ad-Dubb, HD 95689, HIP 54061, HR 4301, 50 Ursae Majoris, 50 Uma, BD+62 1161
Spectral TypeF7V comp
Constellation's Main StarYes
Multiple Star SystemYes
Star Type Main Sequence Dwarf Star
ColourYellow - White
GalaxyMilky Way
ConstellationUrsa Major
Absolute Magnitude -1.08 / -1.07
Visual / Apparent Magnitude1.81
Naked Eye VisibleYes - Magnitudes
Right Ascension (R.A.)11h 03m 43.84
Declination (Dec.)+61° 45` 04.0
Galactic Latitude51.00873264 degrees
Galactic Longitude142.84824817 degrees
1997 Distance from Earth26.38000 Parallax (milliarcseconds)
 123.64 Light Years
 37.91 Parsecs
2007 Distance from Earth26.54000 Parallax (milliarcseconds)
 122.90 Light Years
 37.68 Parsecs
 7,772,003.74 Astronomical Units
Galacto-Centric Distance24,198.06 Light Years / 7,419.00 Parsecs
Proper Motion Dec.-34.70000 ± 0.31000 milliarcseconds/year
Proper Motion RA.-134.11000 ± 0.48000 milliarcseconds/year
B-V Index1.06
Radial Velocity-9.40000 ± 0.30 km/s
Iron Abundance-0.1500 ± 9.99 Fe/H
Semi-Major Axis7319.0000000
Stellar Luminosity (Lsun)345.9900000
Brightest in Night Sky34th

Companions (Multi-Star and Exoplanets) Facts

Exoplanet CountNone/Unaware

Estimated Calculated Facts

Radius (x the Sun)22.70
Effective Temperature4,736 Kelvin
Mass Compared to the Sun4.25

Sources and Links

SIMBAD SourceLink

Multi-Star System

The star has been identified as being a multi-star system, one in which there is at least one star in close orbit to another star or two or more stars orbiting a central point. The stars may be of equal mass, unequal mass where one star is stronger than the other or be in groups orbiting a central point which doesn't necessarily have to be a star. More information can be found on my dedicated multiple star systems page. The source of the info is Simbad. The file is dated 2000 so any differences between this and any other source will be down to the actual source from where the information came from.

Proper Motion mas/yr
H.D. IdB.D. IdStar CodeMagnitudeR.A.Dec.SpectrumColourYear
95689+62 1161.0A2.00000-117.00000-71.00000K0Orange

Location of Dubhe in Ursa Major

Dubhe Location in Ursa Major

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

Ursa Major Main Stars

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