THE NORTH STAR AND LATITUDE

Notebook "Where are you?"

  

  

Observation

Far from the bright lights of the city, in the countryside at night, find north on your compass and then turn towards the north. Stretch out your arm so that it makes an approximate 45º angle with the ground. Now if you look at the sky under your hand, you will see the Little Dipper constellation. The last star in the Little Dipper’s tail is called the North Star because it always shows us which direction north is in. If you have come out of a bright place, wait ten minutes for your eyes to become accustomed to the dark. At the end of these ten minutes, you will be able to make out more stars in the sky.


Ask someone to show you the North Star and the Little Dipper.


From now on, you will always be able to tell which direction is north at night, even without a compass.



Experiment

Look for the North Star on a starry night. Don’t forget that it is found in the north. If you can’t find it, ask someone to help you. After you find it, point the straw on your quadrant towards the North Star, look up through the straw and line it up with the North Star. Read the angle that the thread shows on your quadrant scale.


The angle that you have just taken tells you your position on Earth and is called the latitude of your location. Write this latitude down so that you don’t forget it.


Latitude of my location:______________________________________

The angle of latitude of your location is roughly equal to the angle of the straw on your sundial above the horizon. Use your protractor to measure the incline of the straw on your sundial.