How to find Alcor and Mizar (one of the few naked eye binaries visible in the night sky)

Interestingly Alcor and Mizar was the first double star to be discovered and photographed and Mizar is the brightest star in the Ursa Major constellation, and Alcor is its fainter companion. Being so bright makes it easy to find.

Click to enlarge Alcor and Mizar star chart
Interestingly the Ursa Major used to be an open cluster but has since drifted apart to become the constellation we see today. Alcor is not orbiting Mizar closely ranging between 0.5 to 1.5 light-years. So on a planet orbiting Alcor, Mizar would appear as bright as Venus! While not possible to view in most telescopes Mizar is also composed of another gravitationally bound binary star system Mizar A and Mizar B, B being a dim Red Dwarf star.

With scientific class telescopes it was found that Mizar A, Mizar B and Alcor are all binary stars making Mizar and Alcor the first ever six star system.

So now we have finished discussing Mizar and Alcor you can view the episode below to see the actual footage of the stars, which more accurately represents what you will see with the naked eye through a telescope. To see Alcor and Mizar for yourself first, find the plough or big dipper asterism that is in Ursa Major then look for the middle star off the handle zoom in on this star with a pair of binoculars or telescope and the binary star will be revealed.

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