As the seasons change with the Earth’s orbit around the sun, skywatchers around the globe get to marvel at different constellations and sky events throughout the year. Since the sun will be setting earlier, take advantage of longer nights to get a good look up above. Here is a heads up on celestial marvels to keep an eye out for in the northern hemisphere this winter.
In Greek mythology Orion was a great hunter who was chased into the heavens by Scorpio. In his pursuit of Peleides (or “the 7 sisters” as depicted in the heading), Orion incurred the wrath of their powerful friend Artemis, who saw to it that he was chased into the sky by Scorpio. You can find this constellation by looking for the three stars that make up “Orion’s Belt”.
Shaped like a sideways “W”, you can use Cassiopeia to help you locate the North star by going 5 lengths between the middle star and the bottom one.
Week of November 24: Mercury and Saturn
About half an hour before sunrise this week both Mercury and Saturn will pass close to eachother in the low southwestern sky. For the next two days they will remain in the sky together, only with Saturn, the one that will shine brighter, rising, and Mercury descending closer to the sun.
Thursday, December 19: Moon and Jupiter
Passing within 4°55' of eachother, Jupiter and the moon will be at a close conjunction on this night, making it easier to locate in the East earlier, and in the West closer to dawn. Gemini will be marking the place of the conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter, so you will able to easily spot three-in-one.
It is easiest to see stars and other celestial objects away from the city, where “skyglow”, or light pollution does not block them out. Take friends and family along to share these beautiful sights with them, and even if you don’t plan on being out for too long, make sure you are dressed in layers for the chilly weather of a winter night.
NOTE: Posted 13 months later as an archive.