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Astro Bob

The Ursa Major Moving Cluster — A New Way To See The Big Dipper

29 Apr 2019, 17:18 UTC
The Ursa Major Moving Cluster — A New Way To See The Big Dipper
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The Big Dipper rides high in the northern sky in spring. Stellarium
The best way to look at the stars is to lie flat on your back. If you do that in April and May you’ll stare straight up at the Big Dipper. Even if you live in a light-polluted location, the Dipper is relatively easy to see this time of year because it’s high in the sky. The familiar ladle-shaped arrangement of seven bright stars is probably the most familiar asterism in the night sky after Orion’s Belt. An asterism is the brightest, easiest part of a constellation to see. With the Dipper, it’s part of a larger figure called Ursa Major the great bear.
Most constellations figures are made of unrelated stars connected into patterns that tell a story. The Dipper is an exception. Instead of a chance alignment of suns, it’s the core of the nearest star cluster, named the Ursa Major Moving Cluster. That rank usually goes to the Hyades star cluster in Taurus, the one shaped like the letter “V” and containing the bright orange star, Aldebaran. It’s located about a fist to the left of the familiar Pleiades cluster. Several hundred stars comprise the ...

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