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Last Week's Stargazing Tips

January 19: Fornax

Fornax, the furnace, is quite low in the south as night falls right now. Created in the 17th century, it originally was called Fornax Chemica, after a small heater that was used for chemistry experiments. The name was shortened a few decades later.

January 18: Morning Mercury

Mercury, the solar system’s smallest planet, will be at its greatest distance from the Sun in the morning sky tomorrow. It looks like a fairly bright star quite low in the southeast as dawn brightens, to the lower left of Saturn, another planet.

January 17: Orion Nebula

The Orion Nebula is a fuzzy patch of light just below the three bright stars that represents Orion’s Belt. The nebula is a vast cloud of gas and dust that has given birth to thousands of stars over the last few million years.

January 16: Aries

One of the dimmest but best-known constellations of the zodiac is in fine view right now. Aries, the ram, stands high in the sky at nightfall, and drops down the western sky during the evening.

January 15: Bright Stars

From southern latitudes of the U.S., the two brightest stars in the night sky line up in the south tonight. The brighter star is Sirius, which is high in the south in late evening. The other is Canopus, which is well below Sirius and a little to the right.

January 14: Moon and Regulus

Look for Regulus, the heart of Leo, quite near the Moon as they climb into view in mid evening, and a little farther to the right of the Moon at first light tomorrow.

January 13: Auriga

Auriga, the charioteer, rides high across winter’s evening skies. To find it, look for its brightest star, Capella, which stands high overhead around 10 or 11 p.m. Capella is one of the brightest stars in the night sky, and shines pale yellow.