North Star – How to locate Polaris in the Night Sky

image showing the tracking of north star from the big dipper

N for North Star

how to locate north star

The North Star is like a hog of a wheel, around which other stars seem to revolve. That is why, no matter where we are (in the Northern hemisphere) and at what time of the night, the North Star will always point the North direction.

Tips to introduce to children

  • This needs to be a family activity. Choose a cloudless night when all of you are ready to spare sometime terrace time.
  • Lie down facing the sky (to spare neck pain)
  • Begin a conversation about stars, galaxies and the magical world of the distant space.
  • Introduce the North star and explain why it is so significant.
  • Follow the step-by-step guide and images and locate the North star.
  • Do check back after a few hours to observe how the Big dipper and Little dipper have changed their positions but the North star remains at the same place.
  • Make it a practice to observe the night sky for other stars and constellations as often as you can.

Here’s how we locate the North Star:

Take a thorough look at the stars that are widely spread across the sky. Identify a group of stars that resemble a kite. 

The Big Dipper (Saptarishi Mandal)

Count the 7 stars that form the kite. This structure is called the Saptarishi Mandal in Sanskrit and Big Dipper in English. As you know, a kite has a face and a tail. Look closely at the stars which make the face of the kite. Identify 2 stars that are at the farthest end from the tail. Follow this drawing I pen now. This is the Big Dipper.

 Urva Major

Now try to draw a line, with your vision, that connects the two stars and bring it further down. Follow the image below. You should be seeing a bright star now.

 The North Star

This star is called Dhruv Nakshatra in Sanskrit. It is also called the North Star or Polaris in English. The North Star indicates the direction of the North. If we were to live at Earth’s North pole, the North Star would be directly above our heads.

If you follow closely, you will find another smaller kite with its tail end at the North Star. It’s called the Little Dipper.

If we were to check after a few hours, the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper would have changed their positions. However, the North Star would remain at the same place. That is because, as Earth rotates, The Big Dipper and the Little Dipper keep swinging around the North Star.

 Locating the North Star

If you could locate the North Star with your children, please leave a line here. I would love to hear your experience.

A for Air – Does Air has Weight?

B for Buoyancy – Can Egg float on Salt Water?

C for Capillary action – Rainbow Walking

D for Density – 3 Layer Density Experiment

E for Earth & Moon – Why does the Moon change its shape?: Phases of the Moon

F for Fire – Does Fire need Oxygen to Burn?

G for Gravity – Defying Gravity

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I for Inside the Eye – How to see your Eye Blood Vessels?!

J for Jelly Egg – How to make a bouncy egg?

K for Kinetic and Potential Energy – The Science of Dominoes

L for Light & Lens – How to burn a paper using a Convex Lens?

M for Magnetism – DIY Magnetic Compass

N for North Star – How to locate Polaris in the Night Sky

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