What Is the Big Dipper?


Quick Answer

The Big Dipper is an asterism, or pattern of stars, in the constellation Ursa Major. People can see asterisms relatively easily because the stars are close to each other and have similar levels of brightness.

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What Is the Big Dipper?
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Full Answer

The Big Dipper consists of eight stars. Seven of the stars are clearly visible. People can see the eighth star only if they have good vision and are in a clear area with little light pollution. This asterism is called the Plough in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Some Native American legends say that the Big Dipper's bowl is a bear, and the stars of the handle are three warriors who are chasing it.

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