Many members of the Corps of Discovery learned to be geographers
on the expedition. For instance, they followed very rough maps
and the directions of Native Americans as they journeyed westward.
Along the way the Corps had to create detailed maps of the lands
they explored. These maps would enable future travelers to make
the journey west.
following activity you are a geographer. You must build an instrument
to guide your way as early explorers and frontiersmen once did.
Where is the North Star? Using a Dipper Finder to Locate Polaris
Cut out the preprinted dipper finder patterns. Attach the finder
wheel to the rectangular dipper finder with a brass paper fastener.
Align the current month on the finder wheel with the time of day
on the dipper finder. Practice orienting the dipper finder for
various months and times to become familiar with its operation.
clear night take your dipper finder outside. Set it to the appropriate
month and time. Locate the Big Dipper on the finder wheel. The
Big Dipper resembles a pan with a bent handle. Note the orientation
of the Big Dipper on the finder with respect to the horizon. The
horizon is represented by the outer edge of the finder wheel.
Note the star pattern of the Big Dipper. Look around the sky and
find seven bright stars resembling the shape of the pattern on
the dipper finder.
you find the Big Dipper, hold the dipper finder overhead and move
it so that the Big Dipper on the finder and the Big Dipper in
the sky are oriented the same way. Locate Polaris by using the
pointer stars (see the illustration of Polaris and the Pointer
|You'll use the
Big Dipper to locate Polaris, the North Star.
stars opposite the handle of the Big Dipper point the way to Polaris.
These stars are known as the pointer stars. Starting with the
bottom star, extend an imaginary line through the upper star a
length equal to five times the distance between those two stars.
Polaris will be the brightest star at the end of the imaginary
line. Polaris is the end star in the handle of the Little Dipper.
you locate Polaris, you can locate the four cardinal points of
reference using a simple rule of thumb. While facing north (Polaris),
south will be to your back, east to your right, and west to your
left. Knowing these four cardinal points of reference, you can
use the dipper finder to locate the Big Dipper during any month
at any time.
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