Polaris, the North Star, is an important navigational star because its position in the sky is almost exactly (within a few degrees) lined up with the rotational axis of the Earth. This means that no matter where you are on the Earth (so long as you're in the Northern Hemisphere) if you face toward Polaris you are facing North. Finding Polaris is an incredibly useful night time navigation technique that's helped everyone from the Egyptians to the Vikings find there way on the open seas. But it also is one of the easiest stars to find - something my Dad taught us as kids - and can serve as a great entryway into the world of star gazing and constellations. In fact, locating it involves two of perhaps the three most recognizable constellations in the northern hemisphere (two of which we'll mention in a second; the third being Orion, the hunter).
Let's get started.
**Note** All photos in this instructable were found on the internet, and are the property of their respective owners. I will cite as much information about original sources as I can find. [I wanted to take the photos myself, but unfortunately the rainy season in Japan could just as well be named the cloudy season. (;_;) ]
**Apology** Sorry for the poor quality of some of these photos. It turns out star fields don't hold up well under the Instructables.com image compression. Feel free to click the [ î ] in the upper left corner to view the full size images if you're having trouble.
Step 1: Locate the Big Dipper - (Ursa Major)
It is composed of seven bright stars - three in the handle and four in the head of the spoon. If you can find it in the picture above, great. If not, look at the next photo.