Universe Guide

Pherkad (Gamma Ursae Minoris, 13 Ursae Minoris) Star Facts

Pherkad Facts

  • Pherkad is a giant star that can be located in the constellation of Ursa Minor. The description is based on the spectral class.
  • Pherkad is a main star of the constellation outline.
  • Based on the spectral type (A3II-III) of the star, the star's colour is blue - white .
  • 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 486.81 light years away from us. Distance

Pherkad's Alternative Names

Gamma Ursae Minoris (Gam Umi) 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 HR5735. HIP75097 is the reference name for the star in the Hipparcos Star Catalogue. The Id of the star in the Henry Draper catalogue is HD137422.

Pherkad has alternative name(s) :- Pherkad Major.

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 13 Ursae Minoris. The Flamsteed name can be shortened to 13 Umi.

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+72 679.

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

Location of Pherkad

The location of the giant 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 Pherkad, the location is 15h 20m 43.75 and +71° 50` 02.3 .

Radial Velocity and Proper Motion of Pherkad

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 17.90 ± 0.10 milliarcseconds/year towards the north and -17.73 ± 0.11 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 -3.90000 km/s with an error of about 0.60 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 Pherkad

Pherkad Temperature and Colour

Based on the star's spectral type of A3II-III , Pherkad's colour and type is blue - white giant star. The star has a B-V Colour Index of 0.05 which means the star's temperature is about 8,917 Kelvin. The temperature was calculated using information from Morgans @ Uni.edu.

Pherkad 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 1,257.68 that I have given is based on the value in the Simbad Hipparcos Extended Catalogue at the University of Strasbourg from 2012.

Pherkad Radius

Pherkad estimated radius has been calculated as being 14.47 times bigger than the Sun. The Sun's radius is 695,800km, therefore the star's radius is an estimated 10,068,810.77.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 14.672159814428329891899308355. 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.

Pherkad Apparent and Absolute Magnitudes

Pherkad has an apparent magnitude of 3.00 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 -2.84 If you used the 2007 Parallax value, you would get an absolute magnitude of -2.87. 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 Pherkad

Using the original Hipparcos data that was released in 1997, the parallax to the star was given as 6.79000 which gave the calculated distance to Pherkad as 480.36 light years away from Earth or 147.28 parsecs. If you want that in miles, it is about 2,823,856,484,262,478.90, based on 1 Ly = 5,878,625,373,183.61 miles.

In 2007, Hipparcos data was revised with a new parallax of 6.70000 which put Pherkad at a distance of 486.81 light years or 149.25 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 30,784,807.82 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 7,437.00 Parsecs or 24,256.77 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 Pherkad

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 A380736443,563,697.23
Speed of Sound (Mach 1)767.269425,486,864.66
Concorde (Mach 2)1,534.54212,743,155.06
New Horizons Probe33,0009,892,814.58
Speed of Light670,616,629.00486.81

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.

Hide Explanations
Show GridLines

Additional Pherkad Facts and Figures

Visual Facts

Primary / Proper / Traditional NamePherkad
Alternative NamesGamma Ursae Minoris, Gam Umi, Pherkad Major, HD 137422, HIP 75097, HR 5735, 13 Ursae Minoris, 13 Umi, BD+72 679
Spectral TypeA3II-III
Constellation's Main StarYes
Multiple Star SystemNo / Unknown
Star TypeGiant Star
GalaxyMilky Way
ConstellationUrsa Minor
Absolute Magnitude -2.84 / -2.87
Visual / Apparent Magnitude3.00
Naked Eye VisibleYes - Magnitudes
Right Ascension (R.A.)15h 20m 43.75
Declination (Dec.)+71° 50` 02.3
Galactic Latitude40.83717857 degrees
Galactic Longitude108.46332789 degrees
1997 Distance from Earth6.79000 Parallax (milliarcseconds)
 480.36 Light Years
 147.28 Parsecs
2007 Distance from Earth6.70000 Parallax (milliarcseconds)
 486.81 Light Years
 149.25 Parsecs
  30,784,807.82 Astronomical Units
Galacto-Centric Distance24,256.77 Light Years / 7,437.00 Parsecs
Proper Motion Dec.17.90000 ± 0.10000 milliarcseconds/year
Proper Motion RA.-17.73000 ± 0.11000 milliarcseconds/year
B-V Index0.05
Radial Velocity-3.90000 ± 0.60 km/s
Semi-Major Axis7934.0000000
Stellar Luminosity (Lsun)1257.6800000

Companions (Multi-Star and Exoplanets) Facts

Exoplanet CountNone/Unaware

Estimated Calculated Facts

Radius (x the Sun)14.67
Effective Temperature8,917 Kelvin

Sources and Links

SIMBAD SourceLink

Location of Pherkad in Ursa Minor

Pherkad Location in Ursa Minor

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

Ursa Minor Main Stars

Comments and Questions

There's no register feature and no need to give an email address if you don't need to. All messages will be reviewed before being displayed. Comments may be merged or altered slightly such as if an email address is given in the main body of the comment.

You can decline to give a name which if that is the case, the comment will be attributed to a random star. A name is preferred even if its a random made up one by yourself.

This website is using cookies. More info. That's Fine