Ursa Minor

The Lesser Bear

Genitive:Ursae Minoris
Fully Visible:0°S – 90°N

Greek mythology suggests that this constellation is associated with the figure of Arcas, the son of Callisto. Callisto was turned into a bear by Hera, the queen of the gods, because Hera's husband, Zeus, had been paying a bit too much attention to the nymph. In order to keep Arcas from accidentally shooting his mother, Zeus turned Arcas into a bear too and placed them both in the sky.

The constellation of Ursa Minor

Notable Features

Visible Named Stars
α UMi Polaris Polaris is approximately 1° away from the north celestial pole, hence its common name. However, it won't always occupy this honoured position as precession causes the north celestial pole to move in a large circle through the sky in a cycle of approximately 26000 years. The star sometimes appears as Alrucaba (from the Arabic al‑rukba meaning 'the knee') or Cynosura (from the Greek Κυνόσουρα meaning 'the tail of the dog') in older star atlases and catalogues. It also appears as Al Djedi (from the Arabic al‑jady meaning 'the kid') in Mohammad Al Achsasi Al Mouakket's calendarium.
β UMi Kochab Kochab is one of the 'Guardians of the Pole'. It appears as Anwar al Ferkadain (from the Arabic ʾanwar al‑farqadān meaning 'the brighter of the two wild calves') in Mohammad Al Achsasi Al Mouakket's calendarium. In Chinese astronomy, this star is known as Di, from meaning 'the emperor'.
γ UMi Pherkad Pherkad is the other 'Guardian of the Pole'. It sometimes appears as Pherkad Major in older star atlases and catalogues. In Chinese astronomy, this star is known as Beiji, from Bĕi Jí meaning 'the crown prince'.
δ UMi Yildun The origin of the name of this star is not Arabic but Turkish.
Other Interesting Stars
8 UMi Baekdu This seventh-magnitude star is known to have at least one exoplanet. It is found in the vicinity of Kochab (β UMia).
Meteor Shower Radiants
015 URS Ursids This late December meteor shower is faint and the meteors travel at a moderate speed. The radiant is near the 'bowl' of the 'Little Dipper', a popular name for the constellation. Thus, the radiant is circumpolar for virtually all northern hemisphere viewers. The parent comet of this shower may be 8P/Tuttle.
404 GUM γ Ursae Minorids This minor shower is active for about two weeks in January, peaking around the nineteenth.