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Depending on your location, the same object may appear very different. Consider how a car looks from the side and from the back. This picture shows two different views of the constellation, The Big Dipper. The upper image is what we see from Earth and the lower from a different location in space.

It All Depends On Your Point Of View

In most cases, however, the stars that we see that seem to be "close" to each other actually are quite far apart, some stars are much closer or farther than others as is shown in the example below of Ursa Major, the big dipper.

In the figure we imagine that we have travelled through space till we are about the same distance away as earth but from a different position in space. The stars in Ursa Major would change as is shown in the lower part of the picture.

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The Summer 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist, available in our online store, includes articles on rivers and snow, classroom planetariums, satellites and oceanography, hands-on astronomy, and global warming.

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