January Constellations


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This view spans most of the sky as seen on winter nights. The horizon is seen as a gray shaded area: east is to your left, west to your right, south at the bottom. Straight up is in the center of the picture. The time of night you'll see this exact view changes as the seasons progress, but many of these bright star patterns can be easily found throughout the season.

[More on the constellations below...]

The most arresting feature of the evening sky at this time of year is the presence of many bright stars in the east; these are the winter stars, some of the brightest and most recognizable constellations. They are also rising earlier every night; in the fall, you saw them after midnight - but now, they are up as the sun sets, and no one can miss them. We are going to miss the summer and fall stars, though, bidding a fond farewell as they set lower in the sunset. In particular, the square of Pegasus is still notable, as is the "W" of Cassiopeia in the north, in the middle of the milky way's faint glow.

Turning back to the east, the parade of bright stars is led by Taurus the bull, with a V-shaped star group and the spectacular Pleiades cluster setting it apart. Following in the north, bright Capella marks a pentagonal chariot driver, with the twin stars of Gemini just to his east. Almost straight east, the mighty hunter Orion (one of the few constellations that actually looks like a person) follows Taurus in relentless pursuit. To the south, the brightest night time star of all, Sirius, peeks over the horizon to announce the arrival of the Orion's hunting dog, Canis Major. You may notice his smaller brother, Canis Minor, marked by the bright star Procyon about 20 degrees northeast.

To see the constellation names and read more about them, click on "constellations in depth", below.
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