Pasachoff, Jay M. Hopkins Observatory, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts.
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The Little Bear, a circumpolar constellation from northern latitudes (see illustration). Part of this constellation is the prominent asterism (star pattern) known as the Little Dipper, whose stars are fainter than the corresponding stars of the Big Dipper. At the end of the handle of the Little Dipper is Polaris, at magnitude 2.0 not a particularly bright star—only the 49th brightest in the sky—but one that happens in the present epoch to be close to (almost 1° away from) the north celestial pole, the extension of the Earth's axis of rotation into the sky. Thus the Little Dipper and Polaris are useful for formal and informal navigation. See also: Polaris
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