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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Sky Tonight—February 8, Use Big Dipper’s Pointers to find Polaris

Courtesy of EarthSky
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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.

Big and Little Dippers: Noticeable in northern sky

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 is pretty bright. You just have to look for it at a time when it is visible. Moreover, that will be tonight, and for many nights to come over the coming weeks and months in the north in mid-evening. Once you find the Big Dipper, use the pointer stars to find Polaris, the North Star.

Looking for a sky almanac? EarthSky recommends . . .

Written by Deborah Byrd

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The York County Astronomical Society

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James S McDonnell Planetarium

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