Your guide to the Solar System and the night sky
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Polaris - α Ursae Minoris (alpha Ursae Minoris)

Polaris, also designated as α Ursae Minoris (alpha Ursae Minoris), is a variable and multiple supergiant star in the constellation of Ursa Minor.

Polaris visual magnitude is 2.02, making it the 51th brightest star in the sky. Thanks to its high brightness, Polaris is clearly visible when observed from locations with dark skyes, and should be also quite easily visible from light polluted areas.

The table below summarizes the key facts about Polaris:

2.02
Supergiant
Polaris - α Ursae Minoris (alpha Ursae Minoris) is above the horizon from Greenwich, United Kingdom [change]. Altitude: 51°.

Celestial coordinates and finder chart of Polaris

Polaris is situated close to the northern celestial pole and, as such, it is visible for most part of the year from the northern hemisphere. Celestial coordinates for the J2000 equinox as well as galactic coordinates of Polaris are provided in the following table:

02h 31m 48s
+89° 15’ 51”
123.28°
26.46°
Ursa Minor

The simplified sky map below shows the position of Polaris in the sky:

Finder chart Polaris - α Ursae Minoris (alpha Ursae Minoris) star
Simplified finder chart for Polaris - α Ursae Minoris (alpha Ursae Minoris).

Visibility of Polaris from your location

Location: Greenwich, United Kingdom [change]
Latitude: 51° 28’ 47” N
Longitude: 0° 00’ 00” E
Timezone: Europe/London

Polaris - α Ursae Minoris (alpha Ursae Minoris) is circumpolar and transits at 16:08 UTC (altitude: 52.2°)

Digitized Sky Survey image of Polaris

The image below is a photograph of Polaris from the Digitized Sky Survey 2 (DSS2 - see the credits section) taken in the red channel. The area of sky represented in the image is 0.5x0.5 degrees (30x30 arcmins). The proper motion of Polaris is 0.038 arcsec per year in Right Ascension and -0.015 arcsec per year in Declination and the associated displacement for the next 10000 years is represented with the red arrow.

Image of Polaris - α Ursae Minoris (alpha Ursae Minoris) star
DSS2 image of Polaris. The red arrow shows the motion of Polaris during the next 10000 years (6.33 arcmin in Right Ascension and -2.50 arcmin in declination);

Distance of Polaris from the Sun and relative movement

Polaris is distant 431.22 light years from the Sun and it is moving towards the Sun at the speed of 17 kilometers per second.

132.28 pc
431.22 ly
-17 km/s
0.038 arcsec/year
-0.015 arcsec/year

Spectral properties of Polaris

Polaris belongs to spectral class F7 and has a luminosity class of I corresponding to a supergiant star.

-3.59
F7I
5968K

The red dot in the diagram below shows where Polaris is situated in the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram.

HR Diagram
H-R diagram showing the position of Polaris. Attribution: Richard Powell / CC BY-SA

Polaris star system properties

Polaris is a visual double star which can be observed only with the help of very large telescopes. The table below shows key information about the Polaris double sysyem:

2.02
8.82
6.8
18.4 arcsec

Alternative designations of Polaris

Polaris
α Ursae Minoris
(alpha Ursae Minoris)
1 Ursae Minoris
SAO308
SAO308