The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington

UTA Planetarium

UTA Planetarium

Ask the Astronomer Q&A

Tag: "big dipper"

  • How can I find the Little Dipper using the Big Dipper?
  • Finding the Little Dipper from the Big Dipper is a very simple star-hop. Using the 2 stars at the end of the bowl of the dipper as a guide - draw a line connecting the bottom of the dipper to the top. Continue the line into the sky about 2 hand lengths. This will take you to Polaris, the North Star, which is the last star in the handle of the Little Dipper.

    (Tags:  big dipper  little dipper  star  star hopping)
  • How far apart are the stars in the Big Dipper Constellation?
  • ! The Big Dipper (or to astronomers, "Ursa Major," the big bear") is a group of stars which, when viewed from Earth, forms a striking pattern, but that by no means assures that they are all close to each other and have the same distance. It is quite possible that some are close to us, others distant, and only by chance are they found together in the same part of the sky. Anyway: the numbers. Main stars are named in order of brightness in their constellation, according to the Greek alphabet, and those forming the Big Dipper are Dubhe, Merak, Phecda, Megrez, Alioth, Mizar and Alkaid. A labeled map can be found at: http://www.astro.wisc.edu/~dolan/constellations/constellations/Ursa_Major.html Their approximate distances from the Sun in light years, according to http://www.dibonsmith.com/uma_con.htm are: Dubhe--86 Merak, Phecda, and Megrez—100 Alioth—64 Mizar—95 Alkaid—78

    (Tags:  big dipper  sun)
  • The Little Dipper is to the right of the Big Dipper, correct?
  • That depends on when you are looking at it. Throughout the night, the Big Dipper circles around the Little Dipper, so sometimes it is to the right, but it could also be above, below or to the left of the Little Dipper. Since the Big Dipper is pretty easy to find, 7 bright stars in the shape of a spoon, you can use that to help you find the Little Dipper. Just use the 2 stars at the end of the bowl of the Big Dipper. Draw a straight line from the bottom of the bowl, to the top and keep going (about 2 hand lengths) and you’ll find the North Star, Polaris. Polaris is in the handle of the Little Dipper.

    (Tags:  big dipper  little dipper  star hopping)