• UMa - Ursa Major the Big Bear

    Size

    3 of 88

    Astronomical Regions

    Intro and Visual description

    Ursa Major or the Big Bear is the third largest of the 88 constellations. Seven stars form a familiar group of stars, or an "asterism" within the constellation. In America they are called the "Big Dipper" or "Drinking Gourd," and in Britain the "Plough" or the "Wain." The Big Dipper is one of the most easily recognizable groups of stars in the sky. It is referred to as circumpolar because it never completely sets below the horizon, but is visible in northern skies year-round.

    The Big Dipper.

    Hubble Deep Field

  • M81 - Bode's Galaxy

    Object image

    Permission

    In the area of Ursa Major near the Big Dipper are two remarkable galaxies, both of which are too far away to view without a telescope. M81 is a classic spiral galaxy we see almost face-on, about the same size as the Milky Way, beautiful in its graceful repose. In contrast, M82, seen edge-on, may have experienced a titanic explosion. No one knows for sure, but M81 and M82 are wrapped in a common envelope of dust. Perhaps the passing of M81, which is almost ten times larger, has left the smaller M82 disrupted in its wake.

  • M101 - Pinwheel Galaxy

    Object image

    Object image caption

    M101. Image: European Space Agency & NASA Acknowledgements: Project Investigators for the original Hubble data: K.D. Kuntz (GSFC), F. Bresolin (University of Hawaii), J. Trauger (JPL), J. Mould (NOAO), and Y.-H. Chu (University of Illinois, Urbana) Image processing: Davide De Martin (ESA/Hubble) CFHT image: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope/J.-C. Cuillandre/Coelum NOAO image: George Jacoby, Bruce Bohannan, Mark Hanna/NOAO/AURA/NSF

    Permission

  • M82 - Cigar Galaxy

    Object image

    Permission

    In the area of Ursa Major near the Big Dipper are two remarkable galaxies, both of which are too far away to view without a telescope. M81 is a classic spiral galaxy we see almost face-on, about the same size as the Milky Way, beautiful in its graceful repose. In contrast, M82, seen edge-on, may have experienced a titanic explosion. No one knows for sure, but M81 and M82 are wrapped in a common envelope of dust. Perhaps the passing of M81, which is almost ten times larger, has left the smaller M82 disrupted in its wake.

  • Fusion Image 3

    Source: Johann Bode, Uranographia (Berlin, 1801); History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries
    Object: Hubble Deep Field in Ursa Major the Big Bear; R. Williams (STScI), the Hubble Deep Field Team and NASA/ESA
    Composite: The Sky Tonight, skytonight.org (CC-by)

    Object description

    The original Hubble Deep Field observations were taken over 10 consecutive days during December, 1995. Astronomers pointed the Hubble to an empty spot in the sky, to see if it might be possible to view through a narrow “keyhole” all the way to the visible horizon of the universe. The result was astonishing: almost 1,500 galaxies, in a bewildering variety of shapes and colors. The result is a photo album of the early days of the universe, capturing a time when the first galaxies had not yet formed many stars.

    Fusion Image 3

    Constellations IAU Abbr

    UMa

    Constellation description

    Ursa Major the Big Bear is included in the ancient star catalogs of Eudoxos of Knidos, Aratos of Soli, and Ptolemy. It is the third largest of the 88 modern constellations.

    Source Description

    Bode’s magnificent atlas fused artistic beauty and scientific precision. 20 large copperplate engravings plot more than 17,000 stars, far more than any previous atlas. Bode depicted more than 100 constellations, compared with 88 officially recognized today. Bode also included 2,500 cloudy patches, or “nebulae,” cataloged by William Herschel.  Bode, director of the Observatory of the Berlin Academy of Sciences, produced the last of the four major celestial atlases in which artful depictions of constellation figures appear alongside the most up-to-date scientific data.

    Bode-1801
  • Fusion Image 12

    Source: Johann Bode, Uranographia (Berlin, 1801); History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries
    Object: M81 and M82 in Ursa Major the Big Bear; Hubble Space Telescope, NASA
    Composite: The Sky Tonight, skytonight.org (CC-by)
    Fusion Image 12

    Constellations IAU Abbr

    UMa

    Constellation description

    Ursa Major the Big Bear is included in the ancient star catalogs of Eudoxos of Knidos, Aratos of Soli, and Ptolemy. It is the third largest of the 88 modern constellations.

    Source Description

    Bode’s magnificent atlas fused artistic beauty and scientific precision. 20 large copperplate engravings plot more than 17,000 stars, far more than any previous atlas. Bode depicted more than 100 constellations, compared with 88 officially recognized today. Bode also included 2,500 cloudy patches, or “nebulae,” cataloged by William Herschel.  Bode, director of the Observatory of the Berlin Academy of Sciences, produced the last of the four major celestial atlases in which artful depictions of constellation figures appear alongside the most up-to-date scientific data.

    Bode-1801