Apr 6, 2017


  The Big Dipper is well-placed in the northeast sky after sunset, and it’s a helpful guide to other stars. If you draw a line through the two stars in the front of the Big Dipper's bowl and extend that line to the north, it will point to the North Star, Polaris, which is not really a very bright star at all, but it is always in the north, because the earth’s North Pole points toward that star. Polaris is also at the end of the handle of the Little Dipper, which is also hard to see since most its stars are even dimmer than Polaris. So go back to the Big Dipper’s pointer stars and run a line in the other direction, and you’ll discover a group of stars that looks like a backwards question mark high up in the eastern sky - that’s Leo the Lion. Finally, draw a line through the three stars in the Big Dipper’s handle, and then fly off the handle, and low in the east are the stars Arcturus and Spica, along with a very bright star, the planet Jupiter, nearby Spica.