I had a great question this week about the North Star. Is the North Star really true north? Actually, the North Star, Polaris, is not located true north. It’s actually about one degree (more or less) from the North Pole of the sky. It appears to be true north because the Earth’s axis is pointed almost directly at it. Thus, all of the stars that we see in the sky appear to be revolve around Polaris. However, the pole itself is not stationary and actually moves in a tiny circle around Polaris.
Speaking of Polaris, the next time you visit the US Post Office, they have a wonderful stamp called Polaris Lights. It is an almanac editor’s type stamp with the many colors of the northern lights. It is almost worth the 41 cents you have to pay. Might be graphically the most attractive stamp of all time.
Why do stars twinkle, but planets do not? Stars are minute pinpoints of light. No matter how powerful the telescope, a star will always appear just that – a tiny pinpoint with no discernable disk. When we look at stars through our turbulent atmosphere, those tiny pinpoints become easily distorted and thus appear to twinkle. This is something to keep in mind when you are studying the sky at night.
While I am in a trivia mood, do you know that the jury of 12 may have come from astrology?
Like everything else, there are theories on how things got their origins. There is one theory that the number 12 came from picking a juror from each sign of the zodiac to get balanced representation. Another speculation is that it came form the 12 knights who were chosen to investigate a variety of matters for the king. Still others believe it might date back tot he 12 disciples of Christ.
Are you noticing a change in weather?? While it is almost 40 degrees in Maine, we are getting snow flurries. It has to be really cold just above us. But, for those who love or depend on snow for winter, there is hope in the air. It is suppose to clear later but still, those in northern states are getting a sense that an early winter is imminent.
I will be away for about a week and will have my next blog on November 15th.