Weekly Stargazing Tips

Unless otherwise specified, viewing times are local time regardless of time zone, and are good for the entire Lower 48 states (and, generally, for Alaska and Hawaii). Check out last week's tips if you missed a night.

Auriga

Auriga, the charioteer, is low in the northeast early this evening and crowns the sky in the wee hours of the morning. Its leading light is brilliant Capella, one of the brightest stars in the night sky.

Orion Returns

Orion, the hunter, is returning to prime viewing time. Tonight, it climbs into good view in the east by around 9 or 9:30. Look for its “belt” of three stars, which points almost straight up from the horizon as the hunter rises.

Moon and Mars

The little planet Mars is in good view this evening. It looks like an orange star close to the left of the Moon. They are low in the southwest at nightfall, and set a couple of hours later.

Galaxy Mergers

The stars of winter are working their way into the evening sky. Look for them in the east beginning around 10 or 11 p.m.: Orion, the hunter; Gemini, the twins; and Canis Major, the big dog, with its “dog star” Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky.

The Dragon

A dragon slithers low across the northern sky this evening, curling around the North Star. It is the long but faint constellation Draco. You need dark skies to make out its sinuous body.

Seasonal Wonders

For stargazers, no time is as spectacular as late fall and early winter, when the evening sky abounds with bright stars, such as Rigel and Betelgeuse in Orion, Aldebaran in Taurus, Capella in Auriga, and Sirius and Procyon in Canis Major and Canis Minor.

Grus

Grus, the crane, strides low across the southern sky this evening. From the southern half of the country, look for it along the southern horizon in early evening, with its neck extending well up into the sky. The constellation is below Fomalhaut, the brightest star in that area.

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