Night Sky Handbookpast & present

Night Sky Handbook: Ursa Minor

by Maxwell Tielman

Design*Droits-Humains | Ursa Minor Constellation

Sometimes known as the “little dipper,” because of its ladle-like appearance, Ursa Minor (latin for “Little Bear”) is the nearby cousin of Ursa Major. Visible year-round in the northern hemisphere, Ursa Minor has seven main stairs. The star at the tip of the constellation’s “handle” is Polaris, otherwise known as the north star. Because Polaris is directly aligned with the Earth’s north pole, it has functioned as a navigational tool and a useful point of reference for astronomers.

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