Twin City Amateur Astronomers
All Constellations

Ursa Minor

Little Bear
MythologyMetricsTargetsStar Names
Ursa Minor is the northern-most constellation and contains North Celestial Pole. Ursa Minor, the Small Bear, is as anatomically incorrect as its large brother since bears do not have long tails. However, Ursa Minor resembles Ursa Major in the general form of its brightest stars and the “Little Dipper” is a common alias for Ursa Minor. Polaris, also called the North Star or the Pole Star, is about 1° away from the North Celestial Pole. In Mythology, Ursa Minor is said to be Arcas, son of Callisto, a beautiful maiden that Jupiter took as a lover. Enraged, Juno turned Callisto into a bear. One day, the bear encountered a young herdsman that turned out to be her son, Arcas, who was about to kill the bear when Jupiter intervened placing both in the sky as the Great and Small Bears. Juno was incensed at her rival’s heavenly place and prevailed upon Oceania and Tethys, the ocean gods, to prevent the bears from ever entering the sea. Thus their place became near the polar circle where they never set.