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New Year’s Sky

December 31, 2015

If you want to celebrate the new year with a lightshow, but you’re not crazy about noise, then we suggest you let Mother Nature take the place of fireworks. From a dark but safe skywatching spot, enjoy the splendor of the night sky.

Not long after the clock strikes midnight, look low in the east for the brightest members of the celestial panorama: the Moon and Jupiter. The giant planet stands above the Moon, and looks like a brilliant star.

Leo, the lion, stretches above them, with its head and mane high above its tail. Look for its brightest star, Regulus.

Next, shift your eyes far to the right for Sirius, the brightest true star in the night sky. It’s the leading light of Canis Major, the big dog, so it’s also known as the Dog star. It twinkles fiercely, changing colors from red to blue to pure white.

And to the upper right of Sirius, you’ll find perhaps the most beautiful of all constellations: Orion the hunter. Its three-star belt aims down toward Sirius, helping you find both of them. Orange Betelgeuse is above the belt, with blue-white Rigel below.

Finally, far to the right of Betelgeuse, look for Taurus, the bull. It’s marked by Aldebaran, the bull’s eye. Aldebaran and Betelgeuse look almost like twins, shining with about the same color and brightness. And the bull’s shoulder — the Pleiades star cluster — sparkles to the right of Aldebaran.

These sights and many others offer a grand view for the start of the new year — without the sound effects.

Happy New Year!


Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2015

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