The nautical star, a particular pattern of alternating light and dark shades in a five-pointed star, is often seen throughout the United States. The simple, elegant design attracts much attention and curiosity, but what does it mean?
For some reason or another, I previously harbored a certain degree of contempt and disdain for the nautical star tattoos I would see on people at college parties. I imagine the thought process went something like “That tattoo doesn’t mean anything, it’s just popular, and they got a tattoo just to get a tattoo”. But with a little research, it’s easy to see that Yes, Indeed, there is some significance to the Nautical Star. I now give these people the benefit of the doubt, and assume they selected that particular tattoo design in an informed manner.
In general, it informally indicates membership of the US Navy or Marine Corps. The five-pointed star is a nod to the stars on the US flag, and the coloring is borrowed from the compass rose of traditional nautical charts.