"Star Trail Above Beccles" by Ashley Dace / CC BY-SA 2.0

Something strange is going on with the North Star

Mar 11, 2020

By Rafi Letzter

Something’s up with the North Star.

People have watched the North Star for centuries. The bright star, also known as Polaris, is almost directly above Earth‘s North Pole and serves as a landmark in the sky for travelers without a compass. It’s also Earth’s closest cepheid, a type of star that pulses regularly in diameter and brightness. And Polaris is part of a binary system; it’s got a dimmer sister, known as Polaris B, that we can watch circling it from Earth.

“However, as we learn more, it is becoming clear that we understand less” about Polaris, wrote the authors of a new paper on the famous star.

The problem with Polaris is that no one can agree on how big or distant it is.

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