The origin of the nautical star, like many other maritime or old-school tattoos, is shrouded in the salty mists of time. However, unlike many others, there are some long-standing connections between the five-pointed-star symbol and nautical endeavors. Of all the stars in the night sky that are used navigation, it is Polaris, also known as the North Star, that is relived upon the most. Because it seems to hover at a point directly over the North Pole, it appears to us as stationary, with the other stars revolving around it as they move on their nightly journey. Its fixed position in the sky makes it a key reference point for navigation.
In fact, in nautical charts today, the position of north (or zero degrees) on a compass rose is marked with a five-pointed star. Even the compass rose itself is sometimes a combination of stars, superimposed one on top of the other. While other maritime tattoo symbols find their inspiration in different ports of call or are used to commemorate the voyage and its perils, the nautical star is a much more hopeful symbol of being able to find one’s way. By extension, it has also been used specifically as a symbol of the return home and sometimes the luck that is needed to reach that destination.