Ursa Minor Constellation: Facts & Myths

We all know that a group of stars coming together to form a pattern is known as a constellation, this set of basic information is what we all have learned about in our childhood. What most of us don’t know is that there are 88 constellations and Ursa Minor is one of the constellations in the northern sky which is also known as the little bear. Ursa Minor is like a small bear that has a long tail; at the tip of the tail of the Ursa Minor lies the North Star, called the Polaris. Ursa Minor also contains the little dipper asterism, which is formed by seven stars.

Location of the Ursa Minor

The Ursa Minor is known to be the 56th constellation out of the 88, which is known for occupying an area of 256 square degrees. The Ursa Minor is located in the northern hemisphere at the latitude +90 degree and – 10 degree. It is surrounded by the Camelopardalis, Draco and the Cepheus constellations.

The stars

Seven major stars in the Ursa Minor form the little dipper asterism like:

  • Polaris- This is known as the North Star which is also the brightest star of Ursa Minor. Polaris is important when it comes to celestial navigation. Polaris is also known by quite some names like the Stella Maris, phoenice, lodestar, angel stern and the navigatoria.
  • Kochab- This is known as the Beta Ursae Minoris which is a giant star and is also known as the guardian of the pole as it appears around the Polaris. It emits a lot of light, more than 130 times than the sun
  • The gamma Ursae Minoris- This is known as the Pherkad which is an A-type star that has a magnitude of 3.05. This is also classified as the shell star and has a disk of gas surrounding it.
  • Delta Ursae Minoris- This is a star has a magnitude of 4.35 and is known by its traditional name the Yildun.
  • Akhfa al farkadain- Better known as the zeta Ursae Minoris, this star has 3.4 times more mass than the star and also has a high luminosity.
  • Anwar al farkadain- This star is known to be visible from the naked eye and has a visual magnitude of 4.95.
  • Epsilon Ursae Minoris- The epsilon Ursae Minoris is almost 347 light years distant from the earth and has also classified as the eclipsing spectroscopic binary star.

The myth associated with Ursa Minor

Ursa Minor has two different myths attached to it:

  • According to the first myth, Ursa Minor as a constellation represents Arcas who is the son of Zeus and the Callisto a nymph.
  • According to another myth, the seven stars of this represent the seven daughters of Atlas who tended to the orchard where the tree of golden gave apples of immortality.

There are 88 constellations, and out of these 42 constellations represent an animal, Ursa Minor being one of them.