• Mark Lovewell

Where is the Big Dipper?

 If you’ve had trouble getting oriented with the stars overhead and the changing season, finding the Big Dipper, also known as Ursa Major, may be a challenge.

The Big Dipper is perfectly placed low in the northern sky at 8 p.m. It is not overhead like it was during the early part of summer, nor hanging in the northwest in late summer. The Big Dipper never sets but there are times when it is hard to find. In early autumn it is poised sitting like a handled pot on the horizon.

To see it, you need to view it in a place where there are no obstructions. State Beach is a perfect spot. Add Menemsha Beach, or any place where you know the sky near the horizon is not encumbered by tall trees and hills.

The handle of the Big Dipper still points to Arcturus, the brightest star in the constellation Bootes. But Arcturus is now hard to spot low in the southwestern sky. Arcturus wastes no time and sets soon after sunset.

The front two stars of the dipper point up to the bright North Star, Polaris.

Polaris is 42 degrees above the northern horizon. You can be sure you are seeing it by facing due north and extending your arm outward and bringing your hand halfway up to the zenith, a 45 degree angle. Polaris is near your hand.

Sunrise and Sunset
Fri., Nov. 136:274:23
Sat., Nov. 146:294:22
Sun., Nov. 156:304:21
Mon., Nov. 166:314:20
Tues., Nov. 176:324:20
Wed., Nov. 186:334:19
Thurs., Nov. 196:354:18
Fri., Nov. 206:364:17

Temperatures and Precipitation
DayMax (Fº)Min (Fº)Inches
Nov. 669600.23
Nov. 765550.03
Nov. 863460.00
Nov. 955350.00
Nov. 1061420.00
Nov. 1159531.18
Nov. 1254490.15


Water temperature in Edgartown harbor: 57º F


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