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.Know More
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 about Astronomy
Stars balance energy released by thermonuclear fusion with gravity based on their massive size. Most stars fuse hydrogen into helium, releasing light and thermal energy. Stars hold together because the large amount of matter involved compresses the gas, forming a luminous sphere. This process is known as hydrostatic equilibrium.Full Answer >
Stars begin as particles in a cold cloud of dust. According to How It Works, these particles only develop into a star if a force causes the particles to collide with each other. Otherwise, the particles remain cold and lifeless for ages.Full Answer >
Stars explode either due to gravitational collapse or runaway nuclear fusion. The core of a giant star can become so dense it collapses in on itself, releasing a tremendous amount of energy in one final explosion. Alternately, a white dwarf in a binary system may draw stellar material from its companion star, enough to overload it and create a runaway fusion reaction.Full Answer >
Stars appear to pulsate and twinkle in the night sky due to the refraction of light through the Earth's atmosphere. When the light from a star enters the atmosphere, air molecules bounce and deflect the light rays, slightly altering the apparent position and intensity of the star.Full Answer >