M81 And M82

These two contrasting spiral galaxies are found in northern Ursa Major. The larger of them, M81, is visible on clear, dark nights as a slightly elongated patch of light. One full-moon diameter to the north of it is the smaller, fainter M82, which will require a telescope to be spotted.

seeing ursa major in the night sky

The familiar saucepan shape of the Big Dipper is one of the most easily recognized patterns in the sky, but makes up only part of Ursa Major. The second star in the handle can be seen to be double with the unaided eye.

seeing ursa major in the night sky

The familiar saucepan shape of the Big Dipper is one of the most easily recognized patterns in the sky, but makes up only part of Ursa Major. The second star in the handle can be seen to be double with the unaided eye.

features of interest the BIG dipper 2 One of the best-known patterns in the sky, marked out by the stars Alpha (a), Beta (P), Gamma (y), Delta (8), Epsilon (e), Zeta (Q, and Eta (n) Ursae Majoris. With the exception of Alpha and Eta, these stars are at similar distances from us (about 80 light-years) and are traveling in the same direction through space, forming what is known as a moving cluster.

zeta (Z ) ursae majoris (mizar and alcor) 2 1 Mizar, the second star in the handle, has a fainter companion star called Alcor, which can be picked out with good eyesight and is easily seen with binoculars. A small telescope shows that Mizar also has a closer 4th-magnitude companion.

XI (X) ursae majoris 5 A double star in the south of the constellation that requires a telescope with an aperture of 3 in (75 mm) to be separated. The two components, of 4th and 5th magnitudes, form a true binary, orbiting every 60 years, a relatively short period for a visual binary star.

M81 H 5 A spiral galaxy in northern Ursa Major, tilted at an angle to us.

M82 5 S A spiral galaxy edge-on to us. It is thought to be undergoing a burst of star formation following a close encounter with the larger M81 some 300 million years ago.

M97 (the owl nebula) 5 A planetary nebula under the Big Dipper's bowl, one of the faintest objects in Charles Messier's catalog.

M101 H 5 A spiral galaxy presented face-on to us near the end of the Big Dipper's handle.

Canes Venatici Canum Venaticorum (CVn)

WIDTH DEPTH SIZE RANKING 38» fULLY VISIBLE 90°n-37°s

This constellation of the northern sky lies between Ursa Major and Bootes, south of the handle of the Big Dipper. It represents two hunting dogs held on a leash by Bootes, the herdsman. Canes Venatici was formed at the end of the 17 th century by the Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius from stars that had previously been part of Ursa Major.

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