The Big Dipper’s stars make up a conspicuous landmark in the sky of the Northern Hemisphere. Even novice stargazers can easily pick out the shape, part of the Ursa Major constellation. Now, scientists have shown that three factors can explain why certain groups of stars form such recognizable patterns.
To replicate how humans perceive the celestial sphere, a team of researchers considered how the eye might travel randomly across this night sky. Human eyes tend to move in discrete jumps, called saccades (SN: 10/31/11), from one point of interest to another. The team created a simulation that incorporated the distribution of lengths of those saccades, combined that with basic
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