Finding the North Star

Stars have guided generations of people across the world and back home again. During this time of year, many people look towards the Heavens in remembrance of the Star of David that led the shepherds and wise men to the Christ child lying in a manger.

The North Star or Polaris as it is known has been used as a navigation tool for thousands of years as it is the brightest star in the sky. Though it can be very difficult to find near the equator or in the southern hemisphere. Polaris is best seen in the northern hemisphere. Don't be fooled if you see a single start at dusk or dawn as it might actually be the planet Venus and not Polaris at all. Venus is known as the morning or evening star depending on the time of year. Polaris is located directly over the north pole so it remains steady while the other stars and constellations appear to move with the changing seasons as the earth turns on its axis throughout the year.

Constellations

An easy way to find North Star is to first locate the Big Dipper or Ursa Major. The Big Dipper is a constellation made up of 7 stars in the shape of a pot or skillet. Ursa Major means great she-bear in Latin and Ursa Minor means lesser bear. Ursa Major and Minor can be found traveling the sky together as mother and daughter.

  1. First Find the Big Dipper
  2. Use the two stars at the end of the pot to make a line towards the Small Dipper
  3. The star on the end of the handle will be the North Star

Apps 

There are lots of great apps available for star gazing. Sky Guide allows you to simply hold your smart phone up towards the night sky and it will show you the stars in your local area. It has zoom in features so you will still be able to see the stars even on a cloudy night. It also has a red light mode as to not ruin your eyes as they adjust to the dark. You can use the apps to find your way through the night sky to the North Star.

 

Photo Credit: http://modernsurvivalblog.com/preps/maps-and-direction/attachment/how-to-find-the-north-star/

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