Star Naming Guide: Notable Stars in the Sky

The Big Dipper: Map to Freedom

The Big Dipper is not a constellation, but an asterism—which means that it’s a smaller group of distinctive stars within a much larger constellation. In this case, the Big Dipper stars are a part of the constellation of Ursa Major, also known as the Big Bear

Constellation or not, the Big Dipper is one of the most visible and recognizable star patterns in our sky. Its history is compelling—during the turbulent era of America’s Civil War, escaped slaves fleeing northward would use the Big Dipper’s “pointer stars” (the two stars that make up the end of the dipper’s bowl and form a direct line to the North Star) to help navigate their way. Directions were coded into a folk song titled “Follow the Drinking Gourd.”

That people of different cultures all imagined the shape of a dipper in the stars, and the outline of a bear in the greater interconnected constellation, speaks volumes to our inherent desire to assign earthly significance to the stars. Today, name-a-star companies do a small part in keeping that spirit alive. When you buy someone a star and dedicate it in that person’s name, you’re partaking in a tradition as old as man.

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