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!
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.