Monday, 13 January 2014

The Plough

The Plough (right) also known as the Big Dipper is possibly one of the most recognised parts of the sky , with its saucepan shaped arrangement of stars. Its important for finding the Pole star. If you go to the far side of the saucepan and trace the last two stars up you will come to Polaris, which isn't as bright as you would think. The Little Dipper shown on the left has the handle of the saucepan curving in the opposite direction to the Big Dipper

Looking at all these stars its hard to imagine that they are so far away.

1.Dubhe - the second brightest star in the Big Dipper and is the main pointer to the pole star, Polaris. It is a giant star approx 123 light years away
2.Merak- another star pointing to Polaris. It is 2.7 times more massive than our sun. 79.7 light years away
3. Phad- 83.2 light years away.
4. Megrez- the dimmest star of the seven stars in the plough. . It is 14 times brighter than the sun though
5. Alioth - the brightest star in the big dipper and 31st brightest in then whole sky. It is 82 light years away from Earth
6.Mizar/ Alcor- consisting of the four star system of Mizar and the double star system of Alcor. Only two stars out of the six are visible to the naked eye
7.Alkaid - the last star in the handle and the third brightest in the group. It is about 10 million years old.

bearing in mind that one light year =5878625541248(miles) very hard to comprehend  
Polaris although not a member of the Plough constellation it is an important star in which all others revolve. The Big Dipper points to this star (shown above)

The Big and Little Dipper are moving clusters and are travelling in the same direction as the earth

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