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Big Dipper high in north on June evenings

Tonight, assuming you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, you can easily find the legendary Big Dipper asterism, called The Plough by our friends in the U.K. This familiar star pattern is high in the north during the evening hours in the month of June.

Although the Big Dipper can also be seen from the southern tropics at nightfall, it’ll reside much lower in the northern sky and closer to the horizon. Polaris, the North Star, disappears beneath the horizon once you get south of the Earth’s equator.

You can find the Big Dipper easily because its shape really resembles a dipper.

Less familiar – and tougher to find – is the Little Dipper. Here’s how you can find it from northerly latitudes.

First, locate the Big Dipper in the northern sky during the evening hours. Notice that the Big Dipper has two parts: a bowl and a handle. See the two outer stars in the bowl? They’re known as The Pointers because they point to the North Star, which is also known as Polaris.

Once you’ve found Polaris, you can find the Little Dipper. Polaris marks the end of the handle of the Little Dipper. You need a dark night to see the Little Dipper in full, because it’s so much fainter than its larger and brighter counterpart.

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The two outer stars in the bowl of the Big Dipper always point to Polaris, the North Star.  Image by EarthSky Facebook friend Abhijit Juvekar.

The two outer stars in the bowl of the Big Dipper always point to Polaris, the North Star. Image by EarthSky Facebook friend Abhijit Juvekar.

Bottom line: Look for the Big Dipper high in the north at nightfall!

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Deborah Byrd

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