In 1911, Danish astronomer Ejnar Hertzsprung demonstrated the variable nature of Polaris’ primary star. Hertzsprung used parallax to determine distances to several variable stars in the constellation Magellanic Clouds. Hertzsprung drew on Henrietta Leavitt’s discovery of the period-luminosity relationship in 1908.
As you travel south, the North Star appears lower in the sky. It appears as a bright star in the night sky, but it disappears below the equator. Even though Polaris is no longer visible from the Southern Hemisphere, it is still important to know the direction of the North Star. It is also easy to identify Polaris because it is in the same position in the sky night after night. As a result, it is useful for navigation and astrometry.
To find Polaris, look for a large, bright star in the constellation Ursa Minor. The Little Dipper contains several stars, including Polaris. Look for this star at the end of the handle. Occasionally, the Little Dipper is not very bright. The easiest way to locate Polaris is to look for the seven stars in Ursa Major. These stars form a small bowl with a long handle. All seven point to Polaris.
The North Star is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor, also known as the Little Dipper. It occupies a special place in the night sky. The North Celestial Pole is an axis projection of Earth’s axis, making stars appear to revolve around it. The star Polaris is less than a half degree away from the NCP and appears stationary. The Polaris position is important for navigation.
While Polaris is far from Earth, it is very near the Earth’s north celestial pole. When the earth rotates, it revolves on its axis from the north pole to the south pole. It spins around this pole, but in actuality, Polaris remains in the same spot during the daily rotation. This allows the star to remain visible in the sky even as the Earth rotates around it. And because Polaris is so close to the pole, it remains stationary while the Earth is rotating.
In August 1779, William Herschel discovered Polaris B, a second star in the constellation. These two stars are visible to even modest telescopes. The Dubhe and Merak have been called the “Guardians of the Pole” and Columbus referred to them in his log as sentries on duty. In the past, navigators have used these stars as a way to measure their position and time. The star system of Polaris has three components.
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Even though Polaris is not the brightest star in the night sky, it is an excellent guide to the northern celestial pole. As you move north, it will appear directly overhead. As you move south, it will appear lower on the northern horizon. From the southern equator, it will be very difficult to spot this star. In this way, it’s important to plan your trip accordingly. The stars will appear lower, and Polaris will be higher.