AskDefine | Define lodestar

Dictionary Definition

lodestar

Noun

1 guiding star; a star that is used as a reference point in navigation of astronomy [syn: loadstar]
2 something that serves as a model or guide [syn: loadstar]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Alternative spellings

Noun

  1. A star used as a navigation reference (particularly a pole star such as Polaris.
  2. A guiding tenet.

Translations

star used as navigation reference
guiding tenet

Extensive Definition

A lodestar is a relatively bright, easily found, star that is used to find direction, particularly with reference to Polaris, which during the 20th and 21st centuries indicates the direction to the north within a fraction of a degree. (Due to the slow precession of the Earth's axis, this is not a permanent relationship).
The component lode is etymologically related to the verb to lead – lodestars serve as a guide to navigators, as do lodestones, naturally magnetic stones historically used in compasses. The lodestar Polaris in particular is an essential element of the definition of the Cardinal directions used in modern cartography and compasses.
Lodestones can be used to approximately find the northern direction, and are particularly convenient when the stars are not visible. Due to uneven magnetic deviation a lodestone can be significantly less accurate than a lodestar.
In a figurative sense, "lodestar" can mean an example or guiding principle that people want to follow.
The lodestar is present on many of those flags of African nations that use the Pan-African colors. In this context, it represents the ideal of (African) freedom.

See also

  • sextant - a tool used by navigators to deduce their location from observations of lodestars

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Aldebaran, Canicula, Dog Star, Hesper, Hesperus, Lucifer, North Star, Phosphor, Phosphorus, Polaris, Sirius, Venus, Vesper, ambition, artificial magnet, aspiration, bar magnet, basis, calling, cause, celestial body, center of attraction, center of consciousness, center of interest, comet, consideration, cynosure, daystar, electromagnetic lifting magnet, evening star, field magnet, fixed stars, focal point, focus, focus of attention, goal, ground, guiding light, guiding star, heavenly body, horseshoe magnet, ideal, inspiration, intention, living sapphires, lodestone, magnet, magnetic needle, magnetite, mainspring, matter, morning star, motive, orb, paramagnet, point of convergence, polar star, polestar, prime focus, principle, reason, sake, score, solenoid, source, sphere, spring, starry host, stars, ulterior motive, vocation
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