Q:

What makes the North Star Polaris special?

A:

Quick Answer

The North Star Polaris is a prominent celestial body due to its significance in the fields of astronomy and navigation. However, its designation as the North Star is not permanent and Polaris is bound to be replaced by Vega in the year 14,000.

Continue Reading

Full Answer

Polaris was named as the North Star by ancient astronomers because of its direct alignment with Earth's northern celestial pole. The star's position in the northern sky does not vary even as the planet rotates on its axis. This enables any observer on Earth, particularly navigators and land travelers, to pinpoint the direction that is due north. From this knowledge, the way to the east, west or south can then be easily determined.

Modern astronomers also use Polaris in gauging celestial distances. This method is done by measuring the rate of change of a star's brightness in relation to time.

Learn more about Stellar Astronomy

Related Questions

Explore