Posted by Nicholas Perino on 3/12/2015 10:30:00 AM
Many people think that the North Star is famous for being the brightest star in the sky.
Actually it's the 46th brightest star! So, why is it famous? It is the only star that does not move when the stars rise and set as a result of our Earth turning on its axis. It does not move because it's almost exactly lined up with that axis. So, the North star is a point around which the rest of the sky rotates. No other star does this. And also, since Earth's North pole axis is pointing at the North Star, if you can locate the North Star on the sky, then North is in that direction along the Earth's surface. That's why for thousands of years, Humans have used the North star to help them tell in what direction they are traveling.
So, how do you find the north star?
1. First, you need a clear night.
2. Then find the big dipper (pictured below...it's not easy to miss)
3. Locate the upper star on the right edge of the Dipper
4. Move your eyes along a straight line from that star up until you come to the
next brightest star (just like the picture shows)
5. That last star in the big dipper is called the "Pointer star" because it points its way to the North Star
6. In New York, the North Star is about 42 degrees above the Northern horizon
SO....It's not the brightest and it's not directly overhead, but it is very important.
And, by the way, it's over 400 light years away, so we are not seeing it as it is today, we are seeing it as it was around the year 1610!