3 Ways to Find the North Star

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3 Ways to Find the North Star
3 Ways to Find the North Star

The North Star, also known as Polaris, is often used by campers to find their way if they get lost. You may also want to discover the North Star for fun if you enjoy stargazing. You can rely on the constellations in the night sky to find the north star. Since most of the constellations to be used are in the northern sky, the first thing to find is the direction north. If you don't have a compass, you can rely on natural signs to tell if you're facing north or not.


Method 1 of 3: Using the Constellations to Find the North Star

Find the North Star Step 1
Find the North Star Step 1

Step 1. Use the pointer stars in the Big Dipper constellation

You can easily find the location of the North Star by using the Big Dipper constellation. This constellation has stars known as "pointing stars," which can be used to find the north star.

  • Start by locating the Big Dipper constellation. The Big Dipper is a constellation of 7 stars. This constellation can be found in the northern sky. In the spring and summer months, the Big Dipper is high in the sky. In the autumn and winter months, it is lower in the sky.
  • The name of the constellation Big Dipper is given because its shape resembles a dipper, or in English it is called the Big Dipper (big dipper) because it resembles a dipper and its stem. The four stars in this constellation form a kind of trapezoid that resembles a boat or a dipper. In addition, there are three more stars that seem to form a stalk.
  • Once you've found the location of the Big Dipper, you can use it to find the North Star. To do that, look for the two bright stars that form a trapezoid that are furthest from the tip of the dipper's handle. These stars are called "pointing stars". Draw an imaginary line connecting the pointer stars. Extend the line to four or five times the distance between the indicating stars. You will arrive at a bright star. This is the North Star.
Find the North Star Step 2
Find the North Star Step 2

Step 2. Find the location of the tip of the dipper of the Big Dipper

The constellation in which there is the North Star is called the Little Dipper. The tip of the little dipper is the north star. If you can locate the constellation Little Dipper, it will be fairly easy to find the north star.

  • You can use the Big Dipper to find the Little Dipper. Once you can find the Big Dipper constellation, look a little higher up. The Little Dipper looks like a mirror image of the Big Dipper constellation. The constituting star also consists of 7 stars. Four stars form the base of the trapezoid, and the other three stars protrude outward to form the handle. The outermost star on the handle of the dipper is the North Star.
  • If you live in an urban area, finding the Little Dipper location can be quite difficult. We recommend that you try another method.
Find the North Star Step 3
Find the North Star Step 3

Step 3. Take advantage of the arrows in the constellation Cassiopeia

The most common way to find the North Star is to use the Big Dipper or the Little Dipper. However, the Big Dipper is quite difficult to see if it is low in the sky. Luckily, you can use the constellation Cassiopeia to find the North Star.

  • Cassiopeia is a constellation consisting of 5 stars. Shaped like the letter "M" or "W". Cassiopeia is in the northern sky. In the early hours of the night, this constellation looks more like the letter "M." Between midnight and dawn, this constellation will be more like a "W". Specifically in February and March, Cassiopeia is more likely to look like a "W".
  • The three stars that make up the center of the "M" or "W" can be used to locate the North Star. Look at this point by assuming it is like an arrow. Follow the direction of the arrow forward. You will come to a bright star. This is the North Star.

Method 2 of 3: Finding the North Star with Technology

Find the North Star Step 4
Find the North Star Step 4

Step 1. Find the North Star with your smartphone

There are many smartphone apps that work like a telescope. Enter your location, or give your phone permission to find your location, then point your device at the sky. Your phone will act as an interactive map that can identify the stars and the various constellations. Some apps can also zoom in on the visualization, so you can see the stars more easily.

  • Sky Guide is an iPhone application. This app can track your location and time. Next, you just hold your phone up towards the sky, and the app will show you a map. This app can identify different constellations and stars.
  • For Android, there is an application called Stellarium Mobile. It works the same way as SkyGuide, but the resolution is slightly higher. You can better see the stars and constellations on your phone if you use Stellarium.
Find the North Star Step 5
Find the North Star Step 5

Step 2. Purchase a star atlas

Star atlases have been around for a long time. If the idea of carrying your phone while gazing at the stars doesn't sound like much to you, consider buying a star atlas. You should always carry an atlas with you when hiking in the mountains just in case your phone battery runs out. A star atlas is a book that divides the night sky by region and time of year. You can use the graphs and charts in the star atlas to find the location of the North Star at night.

  • The star atlases have slight differences between one and the other. Usually the back of the atlas has a guide that provides information on how to label the constellations. For example, small stars might be marked with dots. Large stars, such as the North Star, may be denoted by a larger red dot.
  • A star atlas will provide a map, like a map of a city, that guides you through the night sky. Select a map for the area you are in and the current time, then use the map as a guide. Bring a flashlight when stargazing outdoors so you can look at the map when needed.
  • Practice using a star atlas before setting out on a camping trip. It may take some time for you to become good at using a star atlas. Make sure you practice a lot. If you ever need to find the North Star in an emergency, you're ready to use an atlas.
Find the North Star Step 6
Find the North Star Step 6

Step 3. Make a plan with the computer

You can use a desktop application on your computer to find out what the sky looks like on a particular night. These tools can help in planning. You will go outside with a rough idea of where to find the North Star.

  • In addition to the mobile app, Stellarium also has a desktop version of the app that you can download on your computer to find the North Star. The Stellarium desktop app is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows. The display background is the night sky that has been adjusted to your location and time. The desktop application display will show a picture of the night sky that resembles the sky that night, as well as show the location of the North Star. You'll know where to look in the sky when you go outside.
  • If your computer is a Mac, there is a photo planning app called PhotoPills. You can use this app when planning to take photos of the night sky. PhotoPills will show you a simulation of the curvature of the galaxy based on your location and time of day. Next, a map will be formed that can be used further to find the North Star.

Method 3 of 3: Finding North

Find the North Star Step 7
Find the North Star Step 7

Step 1. Find north using two sticks

If you don't know which way you're facing, finding the constellations can be quite difficult. Your ability to find the North Star will also be hampered. Determining the direction north will allow you to find the North Star more easily. Use two sticks to find north.

  • First, prepare two sticks. One of the sticks should be slightly longer than the other.
  • Stick the stick in the ground vertically. Place the longer stick slightly in front of the shorter stick.
  • Lie down in front of the two sticks. With one eye closed, form a straight line between your eye and the two sticks. Wait until a star appears in your line of sight.
  • Stare at a certain star for a few minutes and wait for it to move. If you move up, you are facing east. If it moves down, you are facing west. If you move to the right, you are facing south. If you move to the left, you are facing north.
Find the North Star Step 8
Find the North Star Step 8

Step 2. Create a shadow with the stick

During the day, you can still see the North Star. However, it is almost impossible to rely on the constellations as they are very difficult to see during the day. Use the shadow with the stick and find the north direction.

  • Put the sticks in the ground. Take a rock or other object and place it on the shadow end of the stick.
  • Wait for about an hour. The shadow will move, either getting longer or shorter. Place another stick at the end of the new shadow. Next, stand at an angle perpendicular to the shadow. Now, you are facing north.
Find the North Star Step 9
Find the North Star Step 9

Step 3. Watch for moss growth

If you are in a place where there is moss, use the moss to find the direction north. Look for mosses that grow on vertical structures, such as trees. Moss needs a moist environment to grow. That is, mosses usually grow on the north side of the vertical structure, because the north side gets less sunlight.


  • Make sure you can see all the stars in the Big Dipper before trying to find the North Star.
  • Remember that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, north is always to the right of west. Therefore, wherever you see the sun setting, to the right is north.


  • If you are in the southern hemisphere, or near the equator, it can be quite difficult to find the North Star.
  • If you only see one star, around dusk or dawn, it's likely the planet Venus. This planet is often called the 'Morning Star'.

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