card
079

Polaris

OLogy Series
place
card
079

Polaris

OLogy Series
place

To find north, find Polaris. Earth rotates on its axis, which points directly at Polaris. From Earth, Polaris is the only star, the position of which never seems to change. Earth's axis doesn't point directly at any bright star in the Southern Hemisphere -- that's why there's no "South Star."

Great Chief Star
Throughout the centuries, many peoples have created myths about Polaris. One Native American group referred to Polaris as "The-Star-That-Does-Not-Walk-
Around." Another Native American group, the Pawnee, thought of Polaris as the "Great Chief Star of the Sky." Because it never moved, Polaris represented stability, leadership, and control over daily life. For the Pawnee, the "Great Chief Star of the Sky" rules over his people and provides guidance to Pawnee chiefs on how to be better leaders.

Polaris will not always be known as the North Star because:

Earth is scheduled to flip over in 1,000 years

Earth's axis will eventually point to other parts of the sky

Polaris is about to burn out

Are you right?

Correct!

Earth slowly wobbles like a top as it spins on its axis. This causes the North Pole to point to different places in the sky. Polaris is just one of the stars in its path. In 12,000 years, the North Pole will point to another bright star, Vega.

The name Polaris means:

star from outer space

the pole star

ice star

Are you right?

Correct!

Polaris got its name from its position in the sky. Polaris is positioned directly in line with Earth's axis, right above the North Pole.

If Polaris and the Sun were at equal distances from Earth, Polaris would appear brighter.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

Polaris is a star that can get up to thousands of times brighter than our Sun. It's also way bigger -- its diameter is 67 times the Sun's!

Location: two stars on far side of Big Dipper's cup point up to it
Type of Star: supergiant
Distance from Earth: 300 light-years
Surface temperature: 43,000 degrees F
Also Known As: the North Star
Significance: The North Pole points to Polaris. As Earth rotates, stars seen from the Northern Hemisphere appear to move around Polaris.

Image credits: courtesy NASA.