"The Horse on the Handle of the Big Dipper"

Scheduled air date: 2001 Apr 09-15

Facing North any clear evening after dusk this month, the well-known "Big Dipper" asterism can be seen in an upside-down orientation to the upper-right of Polaris, the "North Star."
(Shown about an hour after sunset for mid-Northern latitudes.)

Upon closer inspection, the star at the bend in the Big Dipper's handle can be seen with the unaided eye to actually be two stars, the brighter Mizar, and its fainter companion, Alcor.  We now know that Alcor itself has a companion, making it a double star, and that Mizar is in fact a quintuple star, having four closer companions.

If you wish to view illustrations for other episodes, please see our Star Gazer Illustrated directory.

Illustrations on this page were created using TheSky Astronomy Software, an advanced desktop planetarium program designed for Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000 and Windows Me. Some post-processing may have occurred.

Copyright 1999-2000 by Software Bisque, Inc.