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Northern Circumpolar
What does circumpolar mean?
a group of constellations that circle
around the North Star without setting or
dipping below the horizon.
• move in a counterclockwise direction
• Out all night, every night, all year, every
This is what I mean:
Circumpolar Constellations:
• Ursa Major, the Big Bear (includes the Big
• Ursa Minor, the Little Bear
• Cassiopeia, the Queen of Ethiopia
• Cepheus, the King of Ethiopia
• Draco the Dragon
The Big Dipper shows the way to
But it is not a real constellation:
What is it? An ASTERISM
• The Big Dipper and Little Dipper are part
of two other official constellations
• The Great Bear and Little Bear
• They are a familiar, but unofficial grouping
of stars.
The Little Dipper w/ Polaris
Why is Polaris so important?
it stays relatively fixed in the heavens while all
of the other stars move in circular arcs
throughout the night.
• In the past, it has been called ‘the ship star’, ‘the
leading star’, ‘star of the sea’ and the ‘steering
• Native Americans called it the ‘nail of the sky’.
Draco the Dragon
The King and Queen
Does Precession effect the Pole
Star? YES!!
• The Earth is like a spinning top.
This wobble changes the spot that
the Earth’s axis points to in the
Northern sky.
These are the stars visible in the southern polar sky.