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Wolseley stars

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"True North!" merely echoes in the MTS Centre. See it for real in the Wolseley sky.

In May, the night sky calls to you.

The Big Dipper is now especially noticeable, high above buildings and trees. In the spring, the distinctive four-star cup and three-star handle are oriented upside down.

The Dipper can lead you to Polaris (the North Star, or Pole Star), which always appears fixed in the night sky and — like a compass — points north.

You will find Polaris by tracing a straight line towards the horizon from the two stars of the Dipper’s "pouring edge."

Extend your hand an arm’s length, clench your fist and count about three fists down from the "top" of the pouring edge. Polaris is the conspicuous, white star.

By facing Polaris, you’re assured you are facing north and can determine other directions accordingly.

We see different stars in different seasons. However, the stars closest to Polaris, including the Big Dipper, are visible all year.

Although the stars seem to move during the night (except for Polaris), they stay in the same position relative to each other. You can easily "star hop" from the Big Dipper to identify some of spring’s most brilliant stars.

Find the brightest star in the spring sky by using the last star of the Dipper’s arced handle. Trace a continuation of the arc down and right, about three extended fists. This is Arcturus. 

Arcturus outshines the other stars and, through binoculars, appears faintly orange. Now use it to find a bright star in the southeast sky.

From Arcturus, continue the arc down three more fist-lengths. You will encounter the prominent white star, Spica.

Planets and other orbiting bodies pass by the stars. Saturn is now a visitor. In May, it’s particularly luminous. Find Saturn east of, and below, Spica – more dazzling than that sparkling star.

Mike Jensen, science programs supervisor at Manitoba Museum says: "Even amongst the sometimes-thick light pollution of the Wolseley area, Saturn should easily pierce through the southern sky. Grab a pair of binoculars and you should even be able to spot its rings."

In May, darkness comes late, around 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Don’t let that deter you. Go out and see a great light show.

It’s been playing for ages.

Gail Perry is a community correspondent for Wolseley.

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