Finding Polaris

After enjoying the starlight snowshoeing trip to Castle Peak, I couldn’t get over the fact that, until this experience, I had never known how to find the North Star. The North Star, or Pole star, aligns with the earth’s rotation and has been used in navigation and map making for centuries. Sometimes called ‘Polaris’ due to its’ location directly over the North Pole, this distant star is only visible in the northern hemisphere and, currently, there is no true Southern Pole Star visible enough to be considered for use in navigation.
Interested in finding it yourself? It’s easy. Start by finding the ‘Little Dipper’. This is the smaller of the two ladle-shaped constellations. Follow the handle of the ladle to the end, and the brightest star at the very tip is Earth’s current North Star, ‘Ursa Minor’.
If you can only find the ‘Big Dipper’ (or, like me, can’t tell the difference), look towards the cup-end of the ladle to find the two outer-most stars from the handle. By extending the line these two stars make out of the cup, you will see that they point directly to the North Star, and also right to the handle of the ‘Little Dipper’.
When you go to find ‘Polaris’, drive out to higher ground so there is less smog and cloud cover. Try finding a place where there are less city lights, which make it more difficult to see. Or come join Peak Adventures for an overnight backpacking or camping trip to learn much more about the outdoors.
- Jake


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