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Stephen James O'Meara’s Secret Sky: The Bear’s collective heart

May 2011: Search out the 14 core members of a traveling stellar neighborhood.
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Go outside after sunset this month and face north. High overhead, you’ll find Ursa Major the Great Bear performing a back flip over the North Star. It’s also the time of year when the constellation’s Big Dipper (or Plow) asterism, a stunning collection of seven bright naked-eye stars of near-equal magnitude, appears to spill its contents over the thirsty Earth — “a kind of celestial metaphor,” the late Jack Horkheimer liked to say, for the nurturing power of spring.

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