January 

At this time of the year The Big Dipper is not very far above its lowest point relative to the horizon.  In fact, if your viewing location is at 35 degrees latitude or less, most or all of The Big Dipper may be completely below the horizon. 

  

Figure 16: January constellations lying to the east of the meridian.

            If you live in a high northern latitude, you may skip over the next paragraph.

Normally, I shall assume that you will be making your observations in the early evening; however, if you live below 35 degrees latitude, I suggest that you  go out at 11 PM on your first night just to find Polaris.  Why?  Because then The Big Dipper should be high enough that you will be able to see most (if not all) of it.  The dipper will appear to be standing vertically with its handle end toward the horizon and the two pointer stars in the bowl will be the highest part.  If this description isnít clear to you, look at Figure 13 in the block labeled January.  Once you have found Polaris, note its position relative to a stationary object on the ground directly below it.  Now you will be able to find Polaris the next night in the early evening when the dipper is not visible.  At the beginning of the next night, follow the instructions below.

 

copyright 2004 Singularity Scientific, all rights reserved.

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