University of Edinburgh

BSL Astronomy Glossary - polaris - definition

Definition: Polaris is a star that appears to hold a fixed position in the night sky while all the other stars and constellations revolve around it. It lies directly above the Earth’s north pole and only visible from the northern hemisphere, it is sometimes known as the North Star. To locate it in the night sky, find the star pattern called the Plough, in the constellation of Ursa Major. As shown in the illustration, if you extend a line downwards, through the two stars on the left edge of the plough, you will find Polaris in the constellation of Ursa Minor, the small bear. When time is speeded up in the video, it is easy to spot, fixed at the epicentre of our night sky, while the other celestial bodies rotate around it. The BSL sign reflects this feature of Polaris.