What Latitude Are You at When the North Star Is 5 Degrees Above the Horizon?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 24, 2020 6:50:42 PM ET
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When the North Star (Polaris) appears 5 degrees above the horizon, it means that the observer is 5 degrees latitude north of the equator. Polaris is as many degrees above the northern horizon as the observer's latitude above the equator; at the North Pole (90 N), it is directly overhead.

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For observers in the Northern Hemisphere, the North Star is easy to locate as long as the constellation Ursa Major, better known as the Great Bear or Big Dipper, is visible. A line drawn through the two bright stars at the far end of the Dipper's bowl points directly to Polaris.