celestial poles


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celestial poles


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The North and South Celestial Poles are the equivalents in the sky of the North and South Poles on Earth. Earth’s axis joins the North and South Poles; extended northward it points to the North Celestial Pole, and extended southward it points to the South Celestial Pole. The North Celestial Pole is roughly marked by the star Polaris in the constellation Ursa Minor (the Little Dipper). Polaris is only three-quarters of one degree away from the true pole. To find Polaris, find Ursa Major (the Big Dipper) and extend the imaginary line joining the two stars known as the Pointers. There is no star marking the South Celestial Pole; the nearest star visible to the naked eye is Sigma Octantis. To find the South Celestial Pole, find the constellation of the Southern Cross and extend the imaginary line joining the two stars that form its longer arm.
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The celestial poles are those points in the sky that the stars appear to rotate around, and extend in a line from the Earth's axis of rotation.
To compensate for your local latitude, your sundial's pointer, or gnomon, that casts the shadow on the hour marks should point towards the celestial pole (the north celestial pole if you're in the Northern Hemisphere, the south celestial pole if you're in the Southern Hemisphere).
You don't want to be right at the equator because you couldn't get the celestial poles from the equatorial regions.