Take this sky tour infographic with you and the next time you are out camping take a few minutes to conduct a tour of the circumpolar constellations. You’ll learn two methods of finding the north star and how to identify the constellations along with some astronomy facts and folklore.
Whenever we have good seeing conditions I try to take the time go through the visible constellations with Scouts, they get pretty good at identifying them once we’ve done it a few times. An astronomy grade green laser pointer (check Ebay, lots of choices) is an indispensable tool for pointing out the features of the night sky and finding the north star.
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Walter Underwood says
When the Big Dipper is not above the horizon, I look at the wide V in Cassiopeia as a slingshot and hit Polaris with that. It isn’t exact, but it is good enough, mostly because Polaris is in an area without a lot of other bright stars.
It certainly helps to get a feeling for how far Polaris should be above the horizon. I guess it would be really easy to quantify that based on latitude. A fist at arms length is about 10º of arc, close enough for Polaris. Maybe I should do that.