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EarthSky // Today's Image Release Date: May 16, 2013

The Big Dipper, the Pointers and Polaris

Want to find Polaris, the North Star? The entire northern sky turns around it. If you can find the Big Dipper, you can always find Polaris.

View larger. |The two outer stars in the bowl of the Big Dipper always point to Polaris, the North Star.  Photo by EarthSky Facebook friend Abhijit Juvekar  Thank you, Abhijit!

View larger. |The two outer stars in the bowl of the Big Dipper always point to Polaris, the North Star. Photo by EarthSky Facebook friend Abhijit Juvekar Thank you, Abhijit!

Many people mistakenly believe that Polaris – the North Star – is the brightest star in the sky. Not so. It’s only a moderately bright star. It’s the location of Polaris in our sky that makes this star special. Earth’s northern axis nearly points to Polaris. Hikers and sailors know that finding Polaris means finding the direction north. How can you find Polaris? The best way is to look for the famous Big Dipper asterism. It consists of seven stars in a distinct dipper-like shape. Unless it’s below your horizon, you’ll find it in the northern sky. The two outer stars in the bowl of the famous Big Dipper asterism always point to Polaris, the North Star. These stars are called Merak and Dubhe. They’re also called The Pointers.

Thank you, Abhijit Juvekar for this interesting and useful photo!

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