How to Find the North Star

Use the pointer stars on the Big Dipper.
You can easily locate the North Star by using the Big Dipper. The Big Dipper contains stars known as “pointer stars,” which can be used to locate the North Star.
  • To start, locate the Big Dipper. The Big Dipper is a constellation made up of 7 stars. The constellation is found in the northern sky. In the spring and summer months, the Big Dipper will be somewhat high in the air. In the autumn and winter months, it’ll be lower in the sky.
  • The Big Dipper is given its name because it’s shaped somewhat like a bowl with a handle. Four stars form a trapezoid-like shape, the bowl portion. Stemming off of these four stars are three more stars, forming the shape of a slightly bent handle.
  • Once you’ve located the Big Dipper, you can use it to find the North Star. To do so, look at the two bright stars that form the side of the bowl farthest away from the handle’s tip. These are the “pointer stars.” Draw an imaginary line connecting the pointer stars. Extend that line about four or five times the distance between the pointer stars. You should eventually reach a somewhat bright star. This is the North Star.

Locate the tip of the Little Dipper’s handle.
 The Little Dipper is the constellation that contains the North Star. The tip of the Little Dipper’s handle is the north star. If you’re able to locate the Little Dipper, you can easily spot the north star.

  • You can use the Big Dipper to find the Little Dipper. Once you find the Big Dipper, look slightly higher in the sky. The Little Dipper will appear as a mirror image of the Big Dipper. It is also a constellation made up of 7 stars. Four stars form a trapezoid base, and three extend out from this base to form a handle. The last star extending outward is the North Star.
  • If you live in an urban area, it can be difficult to locate the Little Dipper. You may be better off trying another method.

Rely on the arrow in the Cassiopeia constellation.
Using the Big or Little Dipper are the most common means to locate the North Star. However, if the Big Dipper is low in the sky it can be difficult. Fortunately, you can use the constellation Cassiopeia to locate the North Star.

  • Cassiopeia is a constellation that consists of 5 stars. They form an “M” or “W” shape. Cassiopeia is located in the north sky. In earlier hours, the constellation looks more like an “M.” Between midnight and dawn, the constellation looks more like a “W.” In the months of February and March, Cassiopeia is especially likely to appear as a “W.”
  • The three stars that form the middle portion of the “M” or “W” can be used to locate the North Star. Look at this point as if it were an arrow. Follow the direction of the arrow forward. You should eventually land on a somewhat bright star. This is the North Star.