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Northern Ecliptic Pole


Right Ascension18h 0m 0s
Declination+66° 33' 39"
Optimum VisibilityJuly (Usually visible from northern latitudes)
NotesThe Northern Ecliptic Pole represents the point on the celestial sphere, in the constellation Draco, that lies directly northward of the Ecliptic plane. Its counterpart, the Southern Ecliptic Pole, lies diametrically opposite the Northern Pole in the constellation of Dorado.

The Northern Ecliptic Pole falls within the coils of Draco the Dragon. By coincidence, it is closely aligned with the distinctive whorled shape of the planetary nebula C6, commonly called the Cat's Eye Nebula, which currently lies less than ten arcminutes from the Ecliptic Pole in the sky.

The major planets of the Solar System orbit the Sun in a common plane, known as the plane of the Ecliptic. The Ecliptic Poles represent the ends of an imaginary line perpendicular to the Ecliptic plane, extending directly 'above' and 'below' it, with the Northern Pole lying in the central regions of the constellation Draco. The Earth rotates on its axis at an angle to the Ecliptic plane, and this means that the Northern Celestial Pole, based on the Earth's axis, does not coincide closely with the Northern Ecliptic Pole. In fact, the Celestial Pole pursues a slow circular path around the Ecliptic Pole, the Precession Circle, which takes more than 25,000 years to complete.

A close view of the Northern Ecliptic Pole in the constellation of Draco. The bright object to the northwest is the Cat's Eye Nebula, while the barred spiral galaxy NGC 6552 is visible to the immediate celestial north of the Pole. Imagery provided by Aladin sky atlas


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