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Constellation Family Groups: Ursa Major Part 2

Ursa Major is situated in the northern hemisphere and is visible throughout the year. It’s name means Great Bear in Latin, which has become a part of legends pertaining to Callisto and Cynosura. Of this pattern, the eight brightest stars are found in the hindquarters and tail of the bear. These parts are known to create the infamous Big Dipper.

Joining the Big Dipper, there is another asterism associated with the Arab culture. It is called the “leaps of the gazelle” and consists of a series of three pairs of stars. The “first leap” is made up of the Ursae Majoris, Alula Borealis, and Australis. The “second leap” is made up of Ursae Majoris, Tania Borealis, and Australis. The “third leap” is made up of Ursae Majoris, Talitha Borealis, and Australis. These particular stars are located about the southwest border of the constellation, which is known as the bear’s toes. Another star in the Big Dipper is called Mizar and is responsible for forming the famous optical double star that also contains Alcor.

Draco (meaning dragon) is a far northern constellation that is considered circumpolar (“does not rise or set from the perspective of a given latitude on Earth”) for many observers situated in the northern hemisphere. As one of the 88 modern constellations, it is also one of the original 48 of Ptolemy. An interesting feature of this constellation is one of the deep-sky objects in Draco called “Cat’s Eye Nebula” , a planetary nebula that resembles a blue disc. In Draco, a handful of faint galaxies are also found, including one that is often called “Messier Object 102.”

The Lynx constellation was first mentioned during the 17th century when Johannes Hevelius , a Protestant councilor and mayor of Danzig (turned astronomer) made the observation. It received its name because it was rather faint and it was said that one would need the eyes of a lynx in order to catch sight of it. The most remarkable deep sky object is called the Intergalactic Tramp, a globular cluster that is considered one of the most distant of its kind known today.

Although the Camelopardalis is large in size, it is a faint constellation that was first introduced by Jakob Bartsch (a German astronomer) in 1624. While it is the 18th largest constellation, it doesn’t appear bright because the brightest stars associated with this find only appear of fourth magnitude. When the stars are connected in full splendor , it shows through like a giraffe.

Canes Venatici (Latin for hunting dogs) is a small constellation that Johannes Hevelius discovered during the 17th century. The shape of this grouping showcases the dogs Chara and Asterion, which are held on a leash by Bootes. This particular pattern is one of three constellations that pay homage to dogs , joining Canis Major and Canis Minor. The brightest star to be on the lookout for in Canes Venatici is Cor Carolu, which was named by Edmund Halley, as he attempted to honor King Charles I of England (while some say it could have been his son Charles II).