How to find Polaris: Also Known as the Pole Star and North Star

I was in the South Downs, a dark sky site, looking at the night sky and I thought it was a great opportunity to explain how easy it is to find Polaris.

Click to enlarge Polaris star map
Finding Polaris is useful both for navigating the night sky and for properly aligning a equatorial telescope. In fact Polaris shows you the direction of true north as it is almost directly above the Earth's north pole along our planets rotational axis.

Due to this if you were at a latitude of 90 degrees north you will find Polaris directly overhead, but if you are in the Northern Hemisphere Polaris will never be below the horizon.

In fact, it is because of this that when you make star trails if you aim at Polaris you will find very little movement in the image.

Here's how you find it. In the photo, you can see Ursa Major, also known as the plow or the Big Dipper. Locate the stars Marek and Dube, then head towards the next brightest star, which is Polaris. Ursa Minor is difficult to see unless it's very dark.

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