While other planets have their own pole stars, only Earth has one. In fact, our pole star describes a 47-degree circle through space over 26,000 years. As the Earth migrates through space, the North Celestial Pole position is constantly changing. 5000 years ago, it pointed toward Thuban, then to Draco the Dragon, and it will point toward Vega 13,000 years from now. In the meantime, it’s a fascinating place to look up at the night sky.
The Minneapolis-based company Polaris Inc. has launched a line of sports watches, and the Polaris lounge in United Airlines’ Chicago O’Hare airport has won a Skytrax award for being the top business class lounge in the world. This latest Polaris lounge exhibits Houston flair. As a result, United Airlines is refocusing its focus on attracting more businesses to the city. Whether you’re looking for a Polaris lounge or a comfortable place to relax with a book, the United Airlines Polaris lounge is an excellent choice.
The brightness of Polaris varies from magnitude 1.86 to 2.13. Before 1963, Polaris had a magnitude of over 0.1. This continued to decrease slowly until 1966 when it dropped dramatically to a mere 0.05 magnitude. Since then, Polaris’ brightness has varied but remained relatively stable near the magnitude it had in 1966. A paper released in 2008 claims that the brightness of the star is actually increasing. Its brightness is approximately 2.5 times brighter than when Ptolemy first observed it.
The North Star, Polaris, is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor, also known as the Little Dipper. The constellation occupies a special place in the night sky. The North Celestial Pole is a projection of the Earth’s axis, and all stars in the northern sky seem to revolve around it. Because Polaris lies one half degree from the NCP, it appears stationary. This is important for navigation, since it is used as a benchmark.
The position of Polaris relative to the horizon depends on where you are. When you’re near the North Pole, it will be directly overhead. From Houston (30 degrees latitude), it will appear 90 degrees above the northern horizon. This trend continues until you reach the geographic North Pole, which is 90 degrees north of the equator. Observers at latitudes north of the equator will see Polaris as being directly overhead.
The constellation Ursa Minor contains several stars known as Pointers. These stars are located five times farther apart than Polaris and are easier to see from an urban location. The Big Dipper is larger and more visible, but the stars of the Little Dipper are relatively dim and cannot be seen from urban areas. They are known as the Pointer Stars, because they lead us to the North Star. They’re a good place to start your search.
In the night sky, Polaris is located close to Earth’s north celestial pole. Since the North rotational axis points to the north celestial pole, stars near this star seem to rotate around the Earth while those farther away travel in bigger circles, while others move much further. This is the reason why Polaris can be a useful tool for mapping out your next trip. You can see how distant Polaris is from Earth through telescopes!
Despite its relatively small size, Polaris is a valuable navigation star. Its elevation is close to the north celestial pole, making it easy to see at night. It’s also one of the most familiar constellations, and can be spotted from many cities around the world. The polar sphere, or “North Star,” is located in the constellation Ursa Minor. In addition to being the brightest star in the constellation, Polaris is also the most northerly star.