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The North Star

In 'Become a Pathfinder', we used the sun as a navigational aid. But there are stars beyond our star and, instead of staring up at the night sky with aimless wonder, let’s put them to use and begin to build a map of the stars for your kid.

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Objective

Find the North Star and understand its utility.

What you need

Time: 30-60 minutes

Clear night sky

Minimal light pollution (if possible)

Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.

– Theodore Roosevelt

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Primer

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The North Star, or Polaris, due to its location above the Earth’s axis, is always in the North. If you can find Polaris, you can determine your direction of travel. The hard part, though, is that there are a lot of stars and Polaris isn’t particularly bright or different from the other 250 billion in our galaxy.

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Primer

The North Star, or Polaris, due to its location above the Earth’s axis, is always in the North. If you can find Polaris, you can determine your direction of travel.

The hard part, though, is that there are a lot of stars and Polaris isn’t particularly bright or different from the other 250 billion in our galaxy.

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Step 1.

In order to find the North Star, first, you need to find the Ursa Major (Big Dipper) constellation.

A constellation is a group of stars that form a pattern or picture and this one looks like a giant spoon.

Once you know what it looks like, it’s relatively easy to find. The first time is the hardest.

Step 1.

north_star_waypoints_northstar_bigdipper_carboni_f

In order to find the North Star, first, you need to find the Ursa Major (Big Dipper) constellation.

A constellation is a group of stars that form a pattern or picture and this one looks like a giant spoon.

Once you know what it looks like, it’s relatively easy to find. The first time is the hardest.

 

 

Step 2.

The two stars at the end of the ladle are known as the pointer stars. If you draw a line from them out to about 5x their length, boom, there’s the North Star.

At different times of the year, the Big Dipper will have different orientations (upside down, etc) so finding it is always a fun activity.

 

 

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Step 2.

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The two stars at the end of the ladle are known as the pointer stars. If you draw a line from them out to about 5x their length, boom, there’s the North Star.

At different times of the year, the Big Dipper will have different orientations (upside down, etc) so finding it is always a fun activity.

Need some additional help?

Check out this video for some extra visual reference before heading outside.

Go build your Strong. Happy. Family.

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