This is my favourite time of year for looking at the most famous pattern of stars in the whole sky - The Big Dipper

IF YOU'RE one of the 300 or so people who came to our Moonwatch at the Brewery last weekend, for Stargazing Live, thank you. I hope you enjoyed those stunning views of the Moon and Jupiter and some of its moons. It made up for not seeing any aurora. Well, almost.

Although Jupiter rises in the east at sunset, and Mars is currently gracing the south eastern sky before dawn, this is my favourite time of year for looking at the most famous pattern of stars in the whole sky - The Big Dipper. By mid-evening in January it looks like a spoon balancing on the end of its handle above the northern horizon. Some people say they see a fish hook, others see a big starry question mark.

But the Big Dipper isn't actually a constellation. It's just a pattern of stars forming part of Ursa Major The Great Bear. Actually its stars represent the bear's tail and its bottom, as the picture shows. Look closely at the middle star in the handle/tail and you might spot it's a pair of stars very, very close together.

Stuart Atkinson

Eddington Astronomical Society of Kendal

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