Using constellations
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Using Constellations. Find the Big Dipper. Easy!. Find the big dipper now?. Still easy?. Can you spot Polaris?. Is this it?. ??. Polaris is NOT a bright star. NOPE!. Why Big Dipper?. It is fairly easy to recognize

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Why big dipper
Why Big Dipper?

  • It is fairly easy to recognize

  • It is seen year round in the northern hemisphere – just look to the north!

  • Astronomers and navigators have been using it to guide the night skies for a long time

  • It also helps us locate Polaris

What so special about polaris
What so special about Polaris?

  • Our Pole Star

  • It is directly above our North Pole

  • All stars seem to “go around” Polaris

Start with ursa major
Start with Ursa Major

It points you to polaris
It points you to Polaris

About 5 times the length of the lip



Polaris is the brightest star in ursa minor
Polaris is the brightest star in Ursa Minor

Ursa Minor


Big Dipper

Finding sirius
Finding Sirius

Sirius is the BRIGHTEST star in the night sky!

Using constellations1
Using Constellations

  • We use constellations to help guide us in the night sky

  • Do you think astronomers need constellations to find their way in the night sky?

  • What do modern astronomers use constellations for? Is there even a need?


  • The Big Dipper is not an official constellation, but rather an asterism.

  • It is a pattern of (usually the brightest) stars that is easily recognized in the night sky.

  • It is NOT a smaller pattern within a constellation as our textbook suggests.

  • Some other examples:

    • Orion’s Belt

    • The “W”

    • Summer Triangle

    • Winter Triangle

    • Fish Hook (Scorpious)