I know the bi dipper is considered an asterism, but what about the Little Dipper?
Both dippers are considered asterisms, actually. So you’re initial guess is correct!
For those who don’t know what an asterism is, here’s the definition, “A prominent pattern or group of stars, typically having a popular name but smaller than a constellation.” Surprisingly enough, it’s rather uncommon knowledge that many of the star-patterns seen in the night skies that we call constellations are actually asterisms. Such as Orion’s belt; it’s an asterism inside the constellation of Orion.
I’m sure some of you are wondering what’s the difference between a constellation and an asterism?
Well the differences aren’t too striking, but enough so that they have different names. Constellations are recognizable parts of the sky with “patterned” stars that are part of our celestial sphere. Asterisms are either subsets of star groups within constellations, or stars from many different constellations that create recognizable patterns, and may not always appear as “fixed” in the sky as certain constellations.
Some asterisms, such as the Big Dipper, are a subset of stars that are part of a larger constellation, with Ursa Major [Great Bear[ being it’s respective constellation. The same goes for the Little Dipper, as you mentioned, which is part of the larger constellation Ursa Minor [Little Bear]. Other types of asterisms are a grouping of stars from many different official constellations. An example of this would be the Summer Triangle [shown below], which is composed of the three brightest stars, Vega, Deneb, and Altair, that are respectively the brightest stars in the constellations Vega, Cyngus and Aquila. Another example of an asterism would be the ever-popular Pleiades, found within the constellation of Taurus.
[Image credit via Astro Bob.]
Below is a list of asterisms and their respective constellations via BrightHub:
- Winter Triangle – Canis Major, also known as the Great Dog, and the star Betelgeuse.
- Great Square – Pegasus, which may be referred to as the the Winged Horse.
- Water Jug – Aquarius or the Water Bearer.
- Teapot/Teaspoon – Sagittarius; also called the Archer.
- The Northern Cross – Cygnus the Swan.
- Medusa’s Head – Perseus, who was a mythological figure
- Circlet – Pisces, or the Fish.
- Job’s Coffin – Delphinius, which is sometimes called the Dolphin.
- Keystone – Hercules, the mythological hero.
- Lozenge – Draco, or the Dragon, and Hercules.
- Sickle – Leo, or the Lion.
- Fish Hook – Scorpius, or the Scorpion.
Made reblogabble here.