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Home > Science > Polaris (The North Star)

Polaris (The North Star)

This page tells all about Polaris, otherwise known as the North Star.

Polaris

Image courtsey of NASA

What is Polaris?

Polaris, commonly called the North Star, is the largest star in the constellation Ursa Minor (which contains the little dipper), which is 430 light years from Earth. Finding Polaris is easy. It is the last star in the handle of the Little Dipper. Contrary to popular belief, Polaris is not even close to the brightest star in the night sky; in fact it is the 40th brightest star. Polaris is located at the celestial north pole and appears almost directly overhead. For this reason, it is sometimes called the "pole star." Polaris, however, will not always be the pole star because of the wobble of Earth's axis. It will be supplanted by the star Vega sometime around the year 12000.

Classification of Polaris

Polaris is classified as a F7 Yellow Supergiant star, about 2,500 times brighter than the sun. Interestingly, Polaris cannot be seen at all from the southern hemisphere.

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