Let’s begin our exploration of the night sky together. In days gone by, people would know where each star and constellation was and could know where they were by the direction of the stars. That is exactly where we shall start, as to know where the Pole star is located is to know where due north is…your so-called heavenly compass!!
Polaris (the Pole star) seems to stay stationary over the North Pole so, wherever you are in the northern hemisphere, find Polaris, you find north!!
To find Polaris, you first have to find the “Plough” – the constellation that looks like a giant ladle in the sky. Most people know the Plough (also called the Big Dipper and officially the constellation Ursa Major) which is always in a northerly direction. Orion, the other well known constellation is located in the south, so if you can find Orion, just turn round to the other direction to locate the Plough. When you have, find the last two stars on the right of the plough, called Merke and Dubhe, which form the outer part of the “square” away from the handle of the ladle. Now continue the line 5 times longer and this will draw you straight to the North Star – which is actually a couple of stars together within the Little Dipper (Ursa Minor) et voila Polaris! So next time the sky is clear, go and have a look and you will always know what direction you are in in the dark!!