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Stars in your eyes

Star map with Polaris, Dubhe and Merak

Mariners have used the stars to navigate by for thousands of years. One of the most important stars to find when navigating is the Pole Star (Polaris). Fortunately it is fairly bright and remains almost stationary in our northerly skies with the other stars moving around it.

To find the Pole Star begin by looking for the seven stars of The Plough, which is part of the Great Bear (Ursa Major) constellation. Find the two stars on the right-hand side - the other end from the plough's shaft. These are called Dubhe and Merak. If you connect these two 'pointer' stars with an imaginary line and extend it upwards you will come to the Pole Star. It is about 5 times the distance as that between Dubhe and Merak.

Polaris is, in fact, the leading star in another faint Plough-like constellation called Ursa Minor. This should give you a means of double-checking that you have identified the Pole Star correctly.

This only works in the northern hemisphere.

JG

Our astronomer was asked for four articles on the night sky over Crich area. This is the fourth. If you would like more about night sky viewing please let us know. Ed

ASTRONOMER: When you rearrange the letters:

MOON STARER