The Sky at Night

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The Independent Online
For such a well-known constellation, the Little Bear - Ursa Minor - is curiously dim and ill-defined. Its fame hangs largely on its brightest star, the Pole Star or Polaris. By a chance of nature, Polaris lies very close to the north pole of the sky, the point around which the dome of the sky appears to turn because of the rotation of the Earth. There is no equivalent star to mark the south celestial pole. Polaris is readily found with the help of the so-called "Pointers" in the Plough.

Kochab is of similar brilliancy but the 5th magnitude star at the opposite corner of the"square" is a challenge for urban sky watchers. Ursa Minor is well-placed in spring and summer evenings. New Moon early this coming week gives the potential for dark skies and the chance to spot more difficult constellations like the Little Bear.

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