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a burning question

casper ghost

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Hello all.

This is my first post on here so be nice ;-)

is it true depending on where you live the north star is visable all year round?

If this is so, and we as in planet earth orbit the sun, taking one year to complete then how is this star visable 365 days year?

Surely at some point we would pass a point this shouldn't be possible to see. Or does it too orbit the sun, therefore the sun being the center of our galaxy and all in orbits around it?

You see my point?

Dumb question? You decide.

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My point.

If the north star is viable all year. This too must orbit the sun, otherwise how can it be behind us 365 days a year?

If for 6 months of the year we couldn't see it because we where the other side of the sun and the sun was blocking our view that would make sense.

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Hi Casper and welcome to the forum.

Polaris is 434 light years away from us and is outside the solar system. For us living in the northern hemisphere the star can be seen to be positioned above us. Many star formations that are close by this star such as cassiopeia, are said to be circumpolar, namely they appear to move in a circle around this one star. This effect is illusionary as it is us that are the ones that are moving and is evidenced by the apparent circular movement of these stars. Think of being a child when for fun you are spun around and around and as you look up at the ceiling, you can see the living room light remain constant with the ceiling rose being the item that appears to spin whilst within yourself you have a sense of being still. It just so happens that Polaris actually sits almost perfectly above on the same line of axis as our movement here on earth, it's not following earth as we travel around the sun as it is so far away but it might give you that impression. Our orbit around the sun is incredibly small given the scale of the universe around us.

Does that help?


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f the north star is viable all year. This too must orbit the sun, otherwise how can it be behind us 365 days a year?

The sun is the "star" in our solar system - every other star, including Polaris is a sun in it's own right and has it's own "solar system" - in no way does Polaris orbit our Sun, it's totally unconnected

Did you ever have one of those gyroscopes - you know, the one where you pulled a string to spin it and it whirled around seemingly defying gravity as it rotated on it's own axis - well, the whole thing spun, but the base always remained in the same spot - imagine that spot being the "pole star" - it would always be visible from the bottom half of the gyroscope - flip the whole thing on it's head and you have the northern hemisphere!

Ok, so I'm terrible at explaining things, and I'm sure someone will come along and say where I'm wrong but I reckon the theory is right

Anyway, I only popped in to say welcome!!

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The solar system goes round the sun. The solar system is in the Milky Way galaxy and the Milky Way goes round the black hole at the center of it. Our solar system is about 3/4 of the way out towards the edge of the Milky Way. It's all spinning round in the same plane.

Hanging above the whole lot is Polaris which can be seen from the top side of any object within the Milky Way - which includes the Northern hemisphere of Earth :)

Edited by brantuk
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Hi Casper.

I hope the others have given you the explanations as to why you see Polaris (and many other objects all year round) -- they are basically at 90 degrees to the Earth's orbit around the Sun.

Just to say though that you're not barking entirely up the wrong tree. Polaris *does* appear to move because of the Earth's motion around the Sun. It's just that the distances involved are so massive, that the size of the motion is incredibly small. The size of the motion is just 0.004 arcseconds (in astronomical scales). To put that in more human terms -- that is the size of two pence piece (or a 25¢ quarter, if you prefer) at distance of about 600 miles!! It's an incredibly small motion :)

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I think the answer is that the earths axis (North - South pole) is always pointing in the same direction which is towards Polaris, not the sun, so irrespective of our position around the sun, it's always pointing to Polaris and the sun never gets in the way, nor any other star.

Edited by sgazer
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Hi Casper, welcome from me too. :)

The NCP, Polaris, is equal to your latitude, so for me it is 54 deg above the horizon.

If I lived in the artic it would be 90 deg, ie.. directly above your head, or if I lived in Rome it would be 42 deg but it would appear not to move from any of them. :D

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