Last Week's Stargazing Tips

February 8: Betelgeuse

Betelgeuse, the bright orange shoulder of Orion, is high in the southeast at nightfall. The star is so huge that if it took the Sun’s place in our own solar system, it would engulf everything out to Jupiter, the fifth planet.

February 7: Faint Neighbors

Alpha Leporis, the brightest star visible in Lepus, the rabbit, is a stunner. It’s more than 30,000 times brighter than the Sun, so it’s easily visible to the unaided eye even though it’s more than 2,000 light-years away.

February 6: Lepus

Lepus, the rabbit, stands just below the feet of brilliant Orion, which is in the southeast as darkness falls. Lepus contains only a few moderately bright stars, but their proximity to Orion makes them easier to pick out.

February 5: Moon and Companions

Venus, the “morning star,” stands close to the right of Moon at first light tomorrow. The smaller, fainter planet Mercury is even closer below the Moon, although it is so low in the sky that it’s tough to spot.

February 4: Moon and Venus

Venus is the brilliant “morning star,” shining low in the southeast at first light. Tomorrow, it stands to the lower left of the Moon. The fainter planet Mercury is closer to the lower left of Venus, although you may need binoculars to spot it.

February 3: Hydra

Hydra, the water snake, slithers across the south tonight. It's so big that it takes more than seven hours for the whole snake to rise. The stars that mark its head rise around sunset, while its tail clears the southeastern horizon after midnight.

February 2: Moon and Saturn

The Moon has a couple of bright companions before dawn tomorrow. The planet Saturn looks like a golden star just below the Moon, and the true star Antares is to their lower right, shining bright orange.


©2015 The University of Texas McDonald Observatory