suitti (suitti) wrote,

Find Polaris

This is extremely unusual. I was listening to an episode of the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast. I happen to finish listening to the March 16th episode just as i was getting home, at night, and it was clear out. It's so seldom clear out.

The episode is entitled Using the Sun to Find the North Star. It talks about how you can go out during the day at solar noon, and where i live in the Northern Hemisphere, your shadow will point North. So if you mark where that is during the day, you'll be able to find the Polaris, the North Star, at night.

Up until that moment, i'd been thinking that i know how to find Polaris, and certainly wasn't going to figure out when solar noon is at my western edge of a time zone, and daylight savings, and all that (though now that i think of it, my planetarium program will tell me exactly when that is), wait till that point in time on a clear day (it's nearly never clear), and put a landmark somewhere along my shadow.

But as my driveway is my primary observing spot, and as i was there, it couldn't hurt to see what sort of landmark i could use. It was only a few seconds, and i could say, "there are the pointer stars of the bowl of the Big Dipper, so that is Polaris". Could my basketball hoop be used? As it turns out, when the basketball backboard just blocks out the street lamp, the post holding the basketball hoop points straight up at Polaris. I don't need a landmark, i have one. And, as that's where the street lamp is blocked, this patch of grass is where the scope should go, at least when there's no snow.

I've been doing it sub-optimally all this time.

Hey. It's clear. Time to get out the scope!
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic