• Boo - Bootes the Herdsman or Bear Driver

    Size

    13 of 88

    Astronomical Regions

    Intro and Visual description

    Skywatchers have long-repeated the catch-phrase "Arc to Arcturus" (Arc-TUR-us). Follow the curve of the Big Dipper’s handle to the fourth brightest star in the sky. Arcturus belongs to the ancient constellation Bootes (BOW-oh-tees). Look for a pentagon above Arcturus forming the torso of the herdsman.

    Some prefer to see Bootes as a one-scoop ice cream cone. Just to one side lies Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown. With bright Gemma ("Jemma") in its center, like a second scoop of ice cream that melted in the heat of summer and fell off the top.

  • Leo - Leo the Lion

    IAU Constellation

    Size

    12 of 88

    Astronomical Regions

    Intro and Visual description

    East of the Gemini twins lies Leo the Lion.

    Find the bowl of the Big Dipper. A line running through the two stars of the bowl of the Big Dipper on the side nearest the handle points almost directly to two other notable stars. Follow them below the bowl of the Dipper to Regulus.

    Leo’s mane looks like a backward question mark, or sickle. Regulus, the "dot" at the bottom of the mark, lies nearly on the ecliptic.

    His flank is a triangle of stars farther east.

  • Lyn - Lynx

    IAU Constellation

    Size

    28 of 88

    Astronomical Regions

    Intro and Visual description

    Lying between Ursa Major and Gemini, the Lynx is a row of very dim stars silhouetting its crouched outline. From antiquity the lynx was renowned for its keen night vision. Hevelius created this constellation in 1690, noting that one needs the eyes of a lynx to see it.

  • 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.