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Earthsky Tonight, February 12, 2010: Use Big Dipper’s Pointers to find Polaris

Courtesy of EarthSky
A Clear Voice for Science
www.EarthSky.org [1]

Finding the North Star [2]
Click here to visit EarthSky

If you can find the Big Dipper in the northern sky in mid to late evening tonight, you can find the North Star, Polaris.

The Big Dipper is not a constellation. Instead, it is an asterism, just a recognizable pattern of stars on the sky’s dome. It is part of the constellation Ursa Major, the Greater Bear.

A well-known trick for finding the North Star, or Polaris, is that the two outermost stars in the bowl of the Big Dipper point to Polaris. Those stars are Dubhe and Merak. They are well known among amateur astronomers as The Pointers.

Can’t find the Big Dipper? Yes, you can!

It really does look like a dipper, and it’s pretty bright. You just have to look for it at a time when it is visible. That will happen tonight, and for many nights to come over the coming weeks and months … in the north in mid-evening.

Written by Deborah Byrd

Other Links:

Sky and Telescope [3]

National Geographic [4]

Space Com [5]

Amazing Space [6]

The York County Astronomical Society [7]

Scope City [8]