Ursa Minor

A famous constellation dating from antiquity and one of Ptolemy's original groups, although why it has been identified as a bear can be explained merely by its resemblance to Ursa Major. The sky is full of animals that seem to come in pairs, dogs, bears, lions and even centaurs! Ursa Major is an interesting constellation even though it contains little of note to the deep sky observer. Its salvation lies in the fact that it is the closest constellation to the north polar axis of the Earth's rotation, and is a convenient point for navigational reference. Once again, almost every civilization has identified this constellation as a bear, with the interesting exceptions of the great Asian cultures in India and Cambodia. This is probably due to their rise as city states when the constellation assumed its present position 2500 years ago. To these enlightened societies, the constellation was the Celestial Mountain or the Mountain of the World, and several Hindu and Khmer temples, such as Kandarya Mahedevi and Angkor Wat were erected as towering Earthly representations of this group of stars.

Notable Objects

Polaris, the pole star