Scope on the Skies: Follow the Drinking Gourd

by: Bob Riddle

As you gaze into the stars during the month of February, remember the plight of African Americans and their ancestors. During the years leading up to and during the Civil War, slaves relied on their knowledge of stars to help determine compass directions while escaping north to freedom. The primary stars used were the stars of the two dipper-shaped patterns known as the Big Dipper and Little Dipper, or otherwise known as the Drinking Gourd. In this activity, students can explore the changing position of these stars due to the rotation and revolution of the Earth using a readily available rotating planisphere or the Star Clock pattern (see Resources).


Type Journal ArticlePub Date 2/1/2006Stock # ss06_029_05_54Volume 029Issue 05

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