Finding the North Star

Finding the North Star (Polaris) in the night sky

North Star

The North Star, or Polaris, is located in the constellation of Ursa Minor, also known as the Little Dipper. The North Star lies at the end of the handle of the Little Dipper. The North Star is one of the brightest stars (48th brightest) in the night sky so it is relatively easy to find. If you still need help locating the North Star, the two outermost stars in the bowl of the Big Dipper points directly to the North Star.

north star

Drawing A Compass

After locating the North Star you can create a compass that points to north, east, west and south.

Draw a line on the ground with a stick so that it points north towards the North Star. You can label the end of the line pointing toward the North Star with an “N” and label the opposite end with an “S”. Now draw a line perpendicular or 90 degrees to the north and south line. If you face North the right end of the second line points to the east and the left end points to the west. You can label the ends of the line accordingly.

In the daylight you will now have a compass that can point you in the right direction.

Note that the North Star is only viewable in the Northern Hemisphere.


The North Star has been used for navigation for thousands of years The ability to accurately determine the where north is at night is a valuable navigational skill worth practicing. Knowing how to find the North Star is another tool in your emergency navigational skills toolkit.