Big Dipper points to Polaris…for now…

Big Dipper with tree - Earth Spins (II)

The North Star is situated directly above the northern axis of Earth. Thus,
as Earth spins, Polaris, on the northern pivot point of rotation, does not appear
to move from its polar position. Hence the name Polaris.

Over the millennia, all the stars are shifting in relation to Earth, due to a
phenomenon known as precession. The direction that Earth’s axis is pointing is
slowly, almost imperceptibly, changing, in much the same way that a spinning
top leans one way and then another. This precession occurs because Earth
is not a perfect sphere, but is about twenty-seven miles wider in diameter at
the equator than between the poles. The bulge in the middle is caused by Earth’s
rotation. Earth’s slow wobble traces out a circular pattern in the sky, and it
takes twenty-six thousand years to complete one circle. For this reason,
Polaris will not always be the “North” Star. In about fifteen thousand years,
the star Vega will take the place of Polaris in the northern sky. By A.D. 27,990,
Polaris will return to its present position as the North Star.

It is easy to find the North Star. Locate the Big Dipper.
Form a line between the two pointer stars, follow it north to Polaris.

Reprinted from


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