Universe Guide

Phecda (Gamma Ursae Majoris, 64 Ursae Majoris) Star Facts

Phecda Facts

  • Phecda is a main sequence star that can be located in the constellation of Ursa Major. The description is based on the spectral class.
  • Phecda is a main star of the constellation outline.
  • Based on the spectral type (A0V SB) of the star, the star's colour is blue - white .
  • Phecda is the 86th brightest star in the night sky and the 6th 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.
  • It is calculated at being 4.604 Billion Years old. This information comes from ExoPlanet.
  • Using the most recent figures given by the 2007 Hipparcos data, the star is 83.18 light years away from us. Distance

Information on Phecda

Phecda is one of the major stars in the Ursa Majorconstellation or the Greater Bear as it is also known. It is fairly easy to identify given that the constellation can look like a saucepan. If you do imagine it is a saucepan for the moment, Phecda is at the bottom left of the pan, forgetting the legs. Once you have identified the constellation, it is pretty easy to identify all the other stars.

Phecda's Alternative Names

Gamma Ursae Majoris (Gam 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 HR4554. HIP58001 is the reference name for the star in the Hipparcos Star Catalogue. The Id of the star in the Henry Draper catalogue is HD103287.

Phecda has alternative name(s) :- Phad and Phekda.

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 64 Ursae Majoris. The Flamsteed name can be shortened to 64 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+54 1475.

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

Location of Phecda

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 Phecda, the location is 11h 53m 49.74 and +53° 41` 41.0 .

Radial Velocity and Proper Motion of Phecda

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 11.01 ± 0.25 milliarcseconds/year towards the north and 107.68 ± 0.40 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 -11.90000 km/s with an error of about 0.70 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 Phecda

Phecda Colour and Temperature

Based on the star's spectral type of A0V SB , Phecda's colour and type is blue - white main sequence star. The star's effective temperature is 9,272 Kelvin which is hotter than our own Sun's effective Temperature which is 5,777 Kelvin.

Phecda 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 64.25 that I have given is based on the value in the Simbad Hipparcos Extended Catalogue at the University of Strasbourg from 2012.

Phecda Radius

Phecda estimated radius has been calculated as being 3.24 times bigger than the Sun. The Sun's radius is 695,800km, therefore the star's radius is an estimated 2,251,592.92.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 3.2063081134172454572217746730. 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.

Phecda Mass

The Phecda's solar mass is 1.23 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.

Phecda Metalicity

The star's metallicity is -0.250000, this value is the fractional amount of the star that is not Hydrogen (X) or Helium (Y). An older star would have a high metallicity whereas a new star would have a lower one.

Phecda Estimated Age

The star is believed to be about 4.60 Billion years old. To put in context, the Sun is believed to be about five billion years old and the Universe is about 13.8 billion years old.

Phecda Apparent and Absolute Magnitudes

Phecda has an apparent magnitude of 2.41 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 0.36 If you used the 2007 Parallax value, you would get an absolute magnitude of 0.38. 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 Phecda

Using the original Hipparcos data that was released in 1997, the parallax to the star was given as 38.99000 which gave the calculated distance to Phecda as 83.65 light years away from Earth or 25.65 parsecs. If you want that in miles, it is about 491,747,012,466,808.98, based on 1 Ly = 5,878,625,373,183.61 miles.

In 2007, Hipparcos data was revised with a new parallax of 39.21000 which put Phecda at a distance of 83.18 light years or 25.50 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 5,259,715.91 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 7,410.00 Parsecs or 24,168.70 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 Phecda

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 A38073675,790,613.04
Speed of Sound (Mach 1)767.26972,701,870.14
Concorde (Mach 2)1,534.5436,350,887.69
New Horizons Probe33,0001,690,360.34
Speed of Light670,616,629.0083.18

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 Phecda Facts and Figures

Visual Facts

Primary / Proper / Traditional NamePhecda
Alternative NamesGamma Ursae Majoris, Gam Uma, Phad and Phekda, HD 103287, HIP 58001, HR 4554, 64 Ursae Majoris, 64 Uma, BD+54 1475
Spectral TypeA0V SB
Constellation's Main StarYes
Multiple Star SystemNo / Unknown
Star Type Main Sequence Dwarf Star
GalaxyMilky Way
ConstellationUrsa Major
Age4.60 Billion Years Old
Absolute Magnitude 0.36 / 0.38
Visual / Apparent Magnitude2.41
Naked Eye VisibleYes - Magnitudes
Right Ascension (R.A.)11h 53m 49.74
Declination (Dec.)+53° 41` 41.0
Galactic Latitude61.38478219 degrees
Galactic Longitude140.84041950 degrees
1997 Distance from Earth38.99000 Parallax (milliarcseconds)
 83.65 Light Years
 25.65 Parsecs
2007 Distance from Earth39.21000 Parallax (milliarcseconds)
 83.18 Light Years
 25.50 Parsecs
 5,259,715.91 Astronomical Units
Galacto-Centric Distance24,168.70 Light Years / 7,410.00 Parsecs
Proper Motion Dec.11.01000 ± 0.25000 milliarcseconds/year
Proper Motion RA.107.68000 ± 0.40000 milliarcseconds/year
B-V Index0.04
Radial Velocity-11.90000 ± 0.70 km/s
Iron Abundance-0.4400 ± 9.99 Fe/H
Semi-Major Axis8942.0000000
Stellar Luminosity (Lsun)64.2500000
Brightest in Night Sky86th

Companions (Multi-Star and Exoplanets) Facts

Exoplanet CountNone/Unaware

Estimated Calculated Facts

Radius (x the Sun)3.21
Effective Temperature9,025 Kelvin
Mass Compared to the Sun1.23

Sources and Links

SIMBAD SourceLink

Location of Phecda in Ursa Major

Phecda 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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