About the stars

Ursa Major (Great Bear) and Ursa Minor (Little Bear) constellations Ursa Major and Minor

Ursa Major (Great Bear) and Ursa Minor (Little Bear) are circumpolar stars. This means they circle the polar point and (as seen from UK latitudes) never set below the horizon. They are visible around the circle of the sky all year round.

The constellations of Cassiopeia and Cepheus (see Perseus and Andromeda) are also circumpolar.

Planisphere by George Philip and Son, c. 1935 Planisphere - click image to find out more

During spring evenings Great Bear will be in the north-western sky and Cassiopeia in the north-east. During spring mornings it will be Cassiopeia in the north-western sky and Great Bear in the north-east. (In autumn, all this is reversed.) A planisphere shows this rotation just like a clock face.

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  • Great Bear and Little Bear - visibility of these stars
  • The constellation of Ursa Major (Great Bear)
  • The two bears - clock and compass of the sky