Useful Tips

6 Ways to Find the North Star in the Starry Sky


The Iguazu Falls complex is one of the most unique on the planet, and now one of the most famous. It appeared when, after the eruption of a volcano, a huge hollow formed on the way of the river. It is in it now that the full-flowing Iguazu River breaks with a roar. This is the same case when no photograph or video is capable of conveying the beauty and grandeur of nature's creation.

Method 1: Looking for the North Star on Ursa Major

To find the North Star along the Ursa Major, you need to find the "bucket" of the constellation and two stars that form its "outer wall", opposite the "handle". The lower of these stars is Merac, the upper is Dubhe. Then a ray is drawn from Meraq through Dubhe, which, as it were, outlines the “wall of the bucket”, and on this beam at a distance of five segments of Merak-Dubhe, deposited from Dubhe, there will be the North Star, which stands out among nearby objects with brighter light.

Below on the photo of the starry sky is superimposed a diagram of such a construction:

Method 2: Compass Search

To find the North Star using a compass, you need to know the direction to it and its height above the horizon. In general, the magnetic needle of the compass points approximately in the same direction as the star, with a slight deviation due to the divergence of the magnetic and geographical poles, as well as distortion of the magnetic lines. This deviation is called the magnetic declination of the terrain; it can be found in a reference book or from the Internet.

  • The compass is north and is adjusted for magnetic declination. If, for example, the magnetic declination is western and equal to 15 °, then 15 ° to the right is laid off to the right of the northern end of the magnetic arrow. If the magnetic declination is eastern and equal to 10 °, then 10 ° is laid to the left. In this direction the North Star will be located. You should not take these measurements near vehicles, power lines, railways and other objects that can affect the behavior of the compass needle,
  • The height of the North Star in degrees is determined. It will be approximately equal to the latitude of the terrain in which the observer is located. For residents of cities and other settlements, you can find out the breadth of their place of residence from the Internet or in any other convenient way. So, for example, for Odessa it is 40 ° 29’10 ″. This means that the North Star from Odessa will be observed at an altitude of approximately 40.5 °,
  • Knowing the angular height, you can determine the approximate position of the star in the night sky. To do this, they use either a sextant, or a compass with a built-in height determination function, or a protractor with a load suspended on a thread, or in another known way.

You can also approximately find the position of the North Star at a known angular height using a ruler. To do this, place the ruler vertically at a distance of 57 cm from the eyes and lay as many centimeters as the vertical angle from the horizon level, how many degrees is the calculated angular height.

So, for example, for Odessa, 40.5 cm should be put up from the horizon. The star itself is found at this height.

Method 3: using a card

If you don’t have a compass at hand, you can use a large-scale map to find the direction to the North Star. For this, a city map is suitable, which can be purchased in specialized stores or some newspaper stalls. It is important that this is precisely a scaled map, and not a diagram for children or a flyer.

The observer stands on a linear landmark (for example, a road), after which he orientates the map. To do this, he finds a linear landmark on the map, on which he is located, and then turns the map so that the direction of the linear landmark on the map coincides with the direction of the same landmark on the ground. For the surrounding objects on the ground and on the map, you must make sure that the map lies correctly, and not rotated 180 °. In short, if any object - a house, a park, a reservoir - is depicted on the map to the right of the linear landmark, then in reality it should be located on the right side of the observer.

Now that the map is oriented, its upper part points in the direction of the North Star. Then, similarly to a compass search, they find out the latitude of the terrain, determine the height of the star’s position above the horizon and find it.

There are situations when there is no compass and map at hand, Ursa Major is not visible in the sky due to clouds and trees (or the observer is near the equator in the summer-autumn period), but some parts of the starry sky with recognizable constellations remain open. These constellations can also be used for search.

Method 4: according to Cassiopeia

Cassiopeia is located on the opposite side of the Ursa Major, relative to the North Star. The Polarissima appears to be sandwiched between these two constellations. Therefore, finding it with the help of Cassiopeia is as simple as that of Ursa Major. To do this, a straight line is drawn through the two extreme stars of the constellation. The same thing is repeated with two extreme stars on the other side of the constellation. From the intersection of the two drawn lines, a beam is drawn through the middle star of Cassiopeia. On this ray from the middle star of the constellation, a segment equal to two distances between the extreme stars of the constellation is laid off - in this place is the North Star.

This method is as simple and convenient as searching for the North Star by the constellation Ursa Major. In some cases, near the equator in the summer, Ursa Major may be beyond the horizon, although the North Star is still visible. In these situations, Cassiopeia is also visible, by which the star is quite simple to find.

Method 5: by the constellation Cygnus

Also, the position of the North Star is determined by the constellation Cygnus. To do this, a ray is drawn from the Hyena star through Deneb. A segment equal to two Hyena – Deneb distances is laid off on it from Deneb. Thus, the approximate location of the North Star is determined, in which the polarissima itself will already be the brightest star.

Method 6: according to Orion

If clouds have covered the entire northern part of the sky, then you can find the North Star by the constellation Orion and the star of Capella. To do this, a ray is drawn from the middle star of the "belt" of Orion through the star Meissu. A distance equal to the Meiss – Capella segment is laid off along the beam from the Chapel. About this area of ​​the sky is the North Star.

This method is relevant only in the autumn-winter period, when Orion appears above the horizon at night.

Useful moments

It is important to remember that the North Star is visible only in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, it can be observed at a distance of no more than 85 km from the equator, either under favorable weather conditions due to light refraction or when the observer rises to a height.

At the equator, where latitude is 0 °, the height of the North Star above the horizon will be minimal. In other words, here it will “lie” on the horizon. And with the gradual movement of the observer to the north, its height will increase and become maximum at a latitude of 90 °.

Many believe that the North Star is one of the brightest stars in the night sky. However, this is not so: its apparent brightness is noticeably weaker than the brightness of stars such as Sirius and Canopus, as well as such planets as Venus and Jupiter, which an unknowing person can confuse with stars. However, compared to nearby stars, the North Star stands out with a brighter glow. Due to this, various constructions using the lines of constellations, a compass or a map do not require high accuracy: it is enough to find an approximate area of ​​the star’s location, and in this section it will already be the brightest.

The deepest lake in the world: name, location, depth

The magnificent Lake Baikal is one of the oldest geographical attractions in the world, which was formed 25-30 million years ago, a highlight of Eastern Siberia. In summer, travelers enjoy breathtaking views - from the azure-blue depths of the reservoir to the picturesque mountain ranges on its shore, in winter, the bolder ones admire its frozen surface, crystal clear ice, covered with cracks and patterns.

Step number 1. We are looking for the Big Bucket in the sky

The easiest way to find the North Star is via the Big Dipper bucket or, as it is also called, the Big Dipper. This star pattern is probably familiar to everyone who has looked at the starry sky at least once, so I won’t describe it again, I’ll only tell you how to find it in the evening sky.

The Big Bucket can be observed year-round, but his position in the sky varies with the time of year. The easiest way to find this figure is in the fall and in the first half of winter, when in the evenings the bucket is observed in the northern part of the sky relatively not high above the horizon. At this time of year, the bucket is in a horizontal position, so it is easily distinguishable in the sky.

On fall evenings, the Big Bucket is easy to find in the northern sky. Pattern: Stellarium

At the end of winter, the bucket abruptly “lifts up” - as if it were on a handle - and rises into the sky. At the same time, it shifts to the east. In the spring, the bucket is almost at its zenith. That is why in late spring and early summer often beginner lovers cannot find him - he is right above their head!

In the second half of winter, the bucket is upright in the northeast. Pattern: Stellarium

Finally, in the summer, the bucket slowly descends to the horizon, being in an inclined position, as if moving down a hill. At this time, it is observed in the southwest and in the west.

Big bucket in the summer sky. Pattern: Stellarium

New York Square: a list with names and descriptions

New York is a city where, according to Henry Miller, "not a stone was laid with love and reverence and not a single street was laid for dancing and fun", which robbed Rome and Constantinople of its status as the center of European civilization, becoming, following the example of the latter, "The object of universal desire." And among its attractions, the squares occupy one of the main places to visit.

The Hague city: where is it located, in which country?

The Hague is a city of international importance, with many faces, which has become home to a wide variety of cultures. In Dutch, its name sounds like Gravenhage or Den Haag, in French - La Haye. The Hague is the administrative capital of the country, the seat of the government is located here, although Amsterdam is the official capital.

In which constellation is located

The North Star is located in the handle of the Ursa Minor bucket and is in the north direction with a slight deviation. It shines brighter than other luminaries, therefore it is more noticeable. Ursa Minor contains 29 celestial bodies, and only 7 are most visible to humans. Also, this constellation is a "reduced copy" of the same, but larger, Ursa Major. It consists of 56 objects, which are also not all visible to a person without a telescope. And in order to determine exactly which constellation points the way, you need to know how to find the North Star.

North Star Characteristic

Few people know that this celestial body is very unusual. The size of the North Star is very large, even the Sun cannot be its competitor. Its temperature is much higher than the temperature of the Sun, it is brighter and heavier. In fact, this is a triple stellar system, but it is impossible to distinguish such details with the naked eye. Three giant stars in the horizon of the Earth merge into a single luminary.

It is also determined that Polyarnaya is the brightest and closest pulsating variable star to the Earth, such as the Cifey delta. That is how light astronomers classify. Scientists suggest that the Arctic and the stars surrounding it are the remainder of a poor open cluster. However, it cannot be said that the North Star is the brightest in the sky. You can see many brighter and larger luminaries. Against their background, the Polar "is lost."

What role does the North Star play

This landmark can be used as an indicator of one side of the world or another. If a person faces the star, then it is safe to say that his path lies to the north, and the south side remains behind. Many more by this star recognize the geographical latitude. To determine it, you must have a protractor and a plumb. The protractor (center mark) is installed directly on the body, and the plumb line is fixed in its center. The resulting angle should be reduced by 90 degrees, it is this result that will be the desired latitude. Knowing how to find the North Star, a person will be able to accurately determine their exact location.

Ancient legends

There are many myths and beliefs that have come to us since ancient times. Arab tribes believed that this luminous point was nothing more than the tomb in which the warrior of heaven rests. The Indians, on the contrary, said that this is a little boy who prays to the gods and does not pay attention to anything. But it is worth considering that it was the ancient inhabitants of our planet who named all the celestial bodies with such unusual and beautiful names. Even then, people knew exactly how to find the North Star in the sky along Ursa Major.

Where is the star

Having become acquainted with some facts and characteristics of the celestial body, you can begin to familiarize yourself with the various ways to search for it. The most important and more famous way is to find the star in the nearby constellations. Some people prefer to use less well-known methods, such as a map or a compass.

Sometimes you may not see the group of celestial bodies in which the star is located, and many are perplexed how to find the North Star. To do this, consider a few examples of the search for this landmark.

5 Ways to Find the North Star in the Sky

  • By Ursa Major.

Consider how to find the North Star in the sky on Ursa Major. To begin with, it is worthwhile to carefully determine where the Big Bucket itself is located, and consider the two main stars that are the basis of its top. The lowest is called Merak, and the one located a little higher is Dubhe. Then a straight line is drawn from the top to the bottom, which has a size five times the distance of the stars from each other. At the end of this segment will be the North Star. If a person is not completely sure that he has determined the correct location, then the luminary should be compared with other celestial bodies, it will be the brightest.

  • By applying a compass.

To begin with, you should direct the compass so that its arrow points exactly to the north, but you should take into account the slight deviation of the indicators due to magnetic declination. To solve the question of how to determine the North Star in the sky, it is worth knowing that the terrain on which the work is carried out should not contain various large metal objects, since their location can affect the exact definition. If the magnetic declination is directed to the west, for example 15 degrees, then it is worth adding them to the indicator - this will be the goal.

  • Locating on a map.

In order to determine where the North Star is located in the sky, you need to be on a linear landmark, by which you can determine your own location on the map. It is worth turning the map exactly in its location and direction, and it is the highest honor of the card that will be directed towards the star we need. Then the person must determine the latitude of the terrain in which he is located, and the height of the star above the horizon.

Cassiopeia is located in relation to Ursa Major on the opposite side, so it’s not difficult to determine where the North Star is in the sky.To do this, connect the midpoint of Cassiopeia with the penultimate point in the tail of Ursa Major. The middle of the obtained segment will be the North Star.

This method is very simple, as well as determining the location of the desired star in Ursa Major. But there are times when the Big Bucket is partially hidden by the horizon and cannot provide assistance in prospecting. Then it is worth remembering Cassiopeia.

If the northern side of the sky is covered with clouds and determining the position of the stars is very difficult, then you should resort to the constellation Orion and its main figure - Capella. For this, it is also necessary to draw a straight line from the middle star, crossing Meissu. And from the Chapel to postpone the distance from it to Meissa. So you can approximately find out the location of the North Star.

All of these methods are quite simple and accurate. Using one of them, you can easily determine where the only fixed star in the sky is located - the Polar.

Step number 2. We are looking for the North Star

So, we found the main landmark in the sky of the northern hemisphere of the Earth. Now let's find the North Star.

To do this, take the two extreme stars of the bucket - their names Merac and Dubhe - and connect them with a line. Made? Now, mentally extend this line beyond the star Dubhe, five times the distance Merak - Dubhe.

To find the North Star, extend the line connecting the stars Merak and Dubhe, for the star Dubhe - five times. The line will point to the North Star. Pattern: Stellarium

If you do this operation in the fall, the line will go up, if in the second half of spring, when the bucket is at its zenith, the line will go down to the horizon.

So, at a fivefold distance Merak - Dubhe you will see a star whose brilliance is approximately equal to the brilliance of these two stars. This is the North Star.

Why is the North Star so famous?

Here, someone will probably ask: “And is this asterisk the Polar one?” Why is there so much noise about her? ”

Indeed, contrary to popular belief, Polyarnaya not the brightest star in the night sky. In the list of the brightest stars, she is in a modest 50th place. Visually, the North Star has about the same brilliance as the stars of the Big Dipper bucket. This means that in the sky of large cities, especially in the centers of megacities such as Moscow or St. Petersburg, the North Star often looks inconspicuous. The reason for this is the strongest flare of the sky caused by street lighting.

Why did the North Star become so famous?

It’s all about the unique position of the North Star in the sky - it is near the north sky pole or, as astronomers say, near the pole of the world. All stars revolve around this pole, thereby reflecting the rotation of the Earth around its axis and the slower movement of the Earth around the Sun. You don’t have to go far for examples: we just saw it on the example of the Big Bucket, which is observed at different times of the year in the evenings in different parts of the sky. But The North Star is always at any time of the year and at any time of the day! - is in the same place.

This shot was taken with a fixed camera with an exposure of several hours. During this time, the stars in the sky moved and turned into arcs. It can be seen that all the stars revolve around a certain point in the sky, which is called the pole of the world. The polar star in this image is closer than other stars to the pole of the world, so its arc is the shortest. Photo: Alan Dyer

The second important point. If you draw a vertical line from the North Star to the horizon, then it will indicate the direction to the north. And the angle between the North Star and the horizon is exactly the latitude of your location.

Thanks to these properties, the North Star has been playing an irreplaceable role for several hundred years in celestial and terrestrial orientation.

The polar one won't always be the polar star

But it was not always so. In the days of the ancient Greeks, another star played the role of the Polar. In the future, the North Star will also cease to play its role. Why?

The fact is that the celestial pole does not stand still, but slowly moving through the constellations. You may have already guessed that our pole of the world is simply a projection of the Earth’s north pole onto a starry sky. And the Earth, in addition to rotating around its axis, also slowly turns, like a top, describing a wide cone with the axis of rotation. As a result, the celestial pole describes an impressive circle in the sky with a diameter of approximately 60 °. It takes him a lot of time - as much as 26 thousand years! Therefore, during the course of our lives, we do not particularly notice the movements of the heavenly poles.

However, this phenomenon was discovered before our era. The author of the discovery is the great ancient Greek astronomer Hipparchus. He called him precession, which in translation means "precedence of the equinoxes."

Thanks to the precession, the North Star became such only 1,500 years ago. Prior to this, the star was closest to the north pole of the world Cohab, the second brightest star of Ursa Minor. After another 2000 years, the pole of the world will approach the star of the gamma Cepheus, and after 12 thousand years, Vega will play the role of the North Star in our sky.

Where is Krakow located? Krakow city, Poland: description, attractions

Where is Krakow located? This Polish city was once formed on the border with the Czech Republic and throughout its history was considered one of the most significant settlements of the country politically and culturally. And you can talk about Krakow as the most interesting and beautiful city in the state. Judging by the reviews of numerous tourists, it attracts not only with its stunning works of art and architectural monuments, but also with buildings erected in the Art Nouveau style.

Sights of Kobuleti (Georgia): what to see first

Many consider the resort city of Kobuleti a cheap option for Batumi. This is the case when the size really does not matter: in the city there are only two streets with a total length of 18 km. The main advantage of this resort is the fact that you will never meet crowds of tourists here. You can easily find a place for yourself both on the beach and at the table of the coastal cafe. Where to relax and what to see from the sights of Kobuleti - we will tell you.

Who discovered Troy: a history of research

Heinrich Schliemann is considered the father of archeology, in any case, this is how he is known today. A brilliant, talented man, a polyglot, a connoisseur of ancient Greek history, a merchant and a traveler, the one who discovered Troy. Holding the old edition of the Iliad, he discovered an ancient city on the hill of Hisarlik. Schliemann in the 19th century developed the methods of archaeological research that are used to this day.

Chuysky tract: the history of construction, attractions, photos

One of the most beautiful roads in the world - the Chuysky tract - leads from Russia to Mongolia and further to China. The history of the Chuysky tract is long and full of dramatic and curious episodes. The road is life, you begin to understand it more fully when you look at the Chuysky tract. People lodge along it, it allows them to survive in rather severe conditions. And away from the tract - deserted and pristine. Let's talk about the history of the Chuysky tract, its heroes and myths.

Simferopol: where it is, description of the city, interesting facts

The Crimean peninsula has a rich history and exciting places for tourists. This wonderful land will not leave anyone indifferent. On the coast of Crimea are dozens of cities that provide places for recreation. But if you go a little deeper, you can get into the city of Simferopol. What is so special about him? Where is Simferopol located? Why does it deserve the attention of visitors to the peninsula? You should learn more about this wonderful city.

Alapaevsk: attractions, description, history of the city, reviews

Alapaevsk is an Ural town founded in 1702. Like many other settlements in these places, it arose thanks to the construction of a large metallurgical plant. Today the city is only developing as a tourist center. What are the most interesting sights of Alapaevsk, and what can be seen in the vicinity?

Verona landmarks, city history, photos

One of the most interesting cities in Italy - Verona, whose photos and descriptions of the sights of which can take more than one page in the guidebook annually attracts about 3 million tourists. Why are they going there? Behind the atmosphere of the ancient city to see unique churches, castles and buildings, and even for romance. After all, Shakespeare did not in vain settle his Romeo and Juliet in this Italian city.

The capital of Belarus: photos and descriptions, attractions, interesting facts, best tips for tourists

Belarus is a country that is a desirable object for travelers who dream of merging with nature, and lovers of cultural values. Here gourmets will find a lot of interesting things for themselves in search of new tastes. The capital of Belarus is the city of Minsk. It attracts tourists not only from all corners of the post-Soviet space, but also the world.

Where did the first metro in the world appear?

From the oldest underground system in London to the busiest in Beijing today, the subway began with the idea of ​​freeing congested streets, providing the ability to move underground. Despite the obstacles associated with technical problems, financing, and wartime delays, the new mode of transport continued to improve.