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LOCATING THE NORTH STAR

To learn to locate the North Star in the night sky, first
practice finding the North Star on star maps such as those
published in your textbooks.

Make a scale copy (or xerox copy) of your sky maps so that
you can mark on them. Draw a line between the two end
stars in the Big Dipper and extend the line in a northerly
direction until you come to a star at the end of the Little
Dipper. That is the North Star. When you are proficient at locating the North Star on a star map, you are ready to try locating it in the sky.

On a clear night, locate the Big Dipper and connect an
imaginary line between the two end stars in the Big Dipper.
By extending this line about five times, you will find an
average-looking star, the North Star.

Even though Big Dipper changes its position during the night and during the year, the two end stars always point to the North Star. Smog conditions may, however, sometimes prevent the North Star from being seen.

Isn't the North Star used for navigation in the northern
hemisphere? The Portuguese taught navigation to the world,
and I think they used the North Star and the Southern Cross, neither of which is visible in the opposite hemisphere.

Now stand a 5-foot stick with an eye screw in one end in a
large can of sand or soil. Move the can until the North Star can be seen through the eye of the screw and is in line with the top of a pole, tree, TV antenna, or other landmark.

By sighting through the eye screw at regular time intervals, you can see if there is any shift in the position of the North Star. Be sure to mark the place you were standing when viewing the North Star through your eye screw. You will have to move around your pole (I think???) in order to follow the Star.

You can use that method to sight other stars, as well.

Use tape to hinge two rulers together end to end at a 90
degree angle. Hold one ruler so that it points straight out
to the horizon and the other one points to the straight up
to the zenith. Tape a protractor to the rulers so that the
base is on the horizon line and the zenith line cuts the 90
degree mark.

To determine the altitude of the North Star where you live,
hold the rulers horizontally at eye level. Look at the North
Star and move the ruler to point at it.

The number of degrees or altitude of the North Star can be
read on the protractor.

In the alternative, you can probably buy an instrument for
determining the altitude of stars, for several thousand
dollars. How many lawns would you have to mow to earn enough
money to buy one?

 

 
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