Polaris The North Star

Ursa Major ( Big Bear) also known in English-speaking countries as the ‘Big Dipper’  is the constellation highlighted on the right.

Ursa Minor (Little Bear) also known in English-speaking countries as the ‘Little Dipper’ is the constellation highlighted on the left and it happens to be quite special because it is the bearer (no pun intended) of the Northern Star or Polaris.

Ursa Major Minor

(Photo – The Principality of Andorra, Pyrenees Mountains)

Polaris is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor, it is found at the tip of the tail. It is very close to the north celestial pole, making it the current northern pole star.

Polaris

Polaris stands almost motionless in the sky, while all the other stars in the Northern sky appear to rotate around it. Polaris lies nearly in a direct line with the axis of the Earth’s rotation “above” the North Pole —the north celestial pole— it marks True North.

Star Trail

However in another 200 years, this star will no longer be the Pole Star, the moving of Polaris towards, and in the future away from, the celestial pole, is due to the precession of the equinoxes. The celestial pole will move away from Alpha Ursa Minor (α UMi) after the 21st century, passing close by Gamma Cephei by about the 41st century.

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