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Unformatted text preview: Ursa Major ) that is a constellation. A well-known grouping of stars like the Big Dipper that is not officially recognized as a constellation is called an asterism . Constellations Are Not Physical Groupings The apparent groupings of stars into constellations that we see on the celestial sphere are not physical groupings. In most cases the stars in constellations and asterisms are each very different distances from us, and only appear to be grouped because they lie in approximately the same direction. This is illustrated in the following figure for the stars of the Big Dipper, where their physical distance from the Earth is drawn to scale (numbers beside each star give the distance from Earth in light years). The relative distances to stars in the Big Dipper It is important to make this distinction because later we shall consider groupings that are physical groupings, such as star clusters and binary star systems....
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- Fall '10
- Anthropology, Sirius, Constellation, Ursa Major, Big Dipper