The South Pacific technique of using steering stars for navigation is based on the regular path of the stars across the sky. It associates a compass direction with the stars that rise at the corresponding compass point over the horizon.
The advantage of such a technique is that the steering star is seen precisely ahead of the canoe, and the helmsman only has to keep the canoe pointing to it to stay on course.
As the hours pass the steering star rises on its oblique path, and its position no longer corresponds to the correct course. It is then replaced by a new steering star that rises over the horizon at the correct location. Steering through the night therefore requires a series of 4 - 5 steering stars.
A navigator has to memorize the sequence of steering stars for all inter-island routes. To apply the technique during cloudy nights when only a few stars are visible he also has to have an excellent knowledge of the star arrangement in its totality.