The Big Dipper forms from seven stars: Alkaid, Mizar, Alioth, Megrez, Phad, Merak and Dubhe. The stars in the Big Dipper appear in skies over the Northern Hemisphere, arranging in a distinct pattern that forms the handle and bowl of the Dipper. In addition to forming the Big Dipper, these stars point toward Polaris, the North Star, providing a sense of direction and orientation.
As with constellations and stars in the sky, the position of the Big Dipper in the sky changes throughout the year. In the warmer months of spring and summer, the Big Dipper appears high in the sky and shines brightest. During the colder months of fall and winter, it shines less brightly and hovers just above the horizon line. Even at its lowest point in the winter sky, the Big Dipper remains circumpolar, meaning none of its points dip below the horizon line.
This unique arrangement of stars contains seven major stars, which derive their names from different origins, including Arabic and Latin. Its two most prominent stars include Alkaid, which forms the tip of its handle and Dubhe, which extends farthest from Alkaid. Dubhe, in Arabic, translates to "Great Bear." Dubhe classifies as a pointer star, along with nearby Merzak. These two stars lead to Polaris, the North Star, and to Regulus, a star in the constellation Leo.Learn More
Spectroscopic parallax is a technique that is used in the field of astronomy to estimate how far a star is from a certain point like the surface of the earth. Cliffsnotes.com explains that the method involves comparing the star’s absolute size with its apparent size which is obtained by measuring.Full Answer >
Stargazers in ancient Greece observed the "pictures" formed by stars and named the Orion constellation after a mythological hunter. Many origin stories exist, but one popular version recounts Orion's quest to defeat a giant scorpion sent by Gaia, the goddess of Earth, according to the Windows to the Universe.Full Answer >
The sun and planets follow the ecliptic, an imaginary plane in the celestial sphere tilted approximately 23.5 degrees relative to the celestial equator. Earthbound observers see the sun and planets move along the ecliptic arc, rising up from the east and setting in the west.Full Answer >
The pursuit and study of astronomy as a science can be difficult at times, but the degree of difficulty is subjective to different individuals. Advancing through astronomical studies leads to questions and problems of greater difficulty.Full Answer >