Ursa Minor: The Little Bear

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Ursa Minor, The Little Bear

Ursa Minor as depicted by Johann Bayer in his Uranometria (1603). Source image provided by www.RareMaps.com — Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc.

Ursa Minor Constellation Profile
Abbreviation: UMi Genitive: Ursae Minoris Origin: Ancient
Location: Northern Hemisphere Size/Area: 256 sq. deg. Size Rank: 56
On Meridian: 9pm June 25th Best View (North): All year Best View (South):
Bordering Constellations: Draco, Cepheus, Camelopardalis

 

The Myth Behind the Constellation Ursa Minor

Ursa Minor, “The Little Bear” is often linked to Arcas, son of Zeus and Callisto.  To protect Callisto from the jealousy of Hera, Zeus disguises his paramour by turning her into a bear.  The boy is raised by Maia, the mother of Hermes.  Many years later Arcas has become a masterful hunter and comes upon his mother in bear form.  Callisto recognizes her son and tries to greet him but her words only come out as growls.  Arcus is about to kill her when Zeus, taking pity, turns him into a bear and places mother and son in the stars as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.  In another version, Arcas is not turned into a bear and is placed in the sky as Boötes.

Ursa Minor Constellation Points of Interest

Interesting stars and objects.

Bright Stars in Ursa Minor

These are the stars in Ursa Minor with a minimum magnitude of 3.0.

Name Bayer Name Magnitude Color Luminosity Distance
Polaris Alpha Ursae Minoris 1.96  Yellow-White 2,612 suns 432 ly
Kochab Beta Ursae Minoris 2.07  Orange 1005 suns 127 ly