Stargazing: The Winter Hexagon

January 30, 2012 12:00 am
  • The Winter Hexagon.
    The Winter Hexagon.
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On these frigid evenings, Orion and the bright stars of winter dominate the southern sky. Some of the brightest winter stars in and around Orion form a large and easily found pattern called the "Winter Hexagon."

The star at the top of the hexagon is Capella in the constellation Auriga, the Charioteer. It is a bright yellow star. The orange star Aldebaran is about 30 degrees to the lower right of Capella, in Taurus. Tonight, stargazers can find the waxing moon and Jupiter shining about 35 degrees to the right of Aldebaran. The moon will pass Aldebaran by Thursday evening.

About 25 degrees below Aldebaran is the bright blue star Rigel, in Orion. At the bottom of the hexagon is the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, in the constellation of Canis Major, the great dog. Going back up to the upper left of Sirius is a bright white star, Procyon, in Canis Minor, the little dog. Above Procyon are Castor and Pollux, Gemini's brightest stars.

-- By Dan Malerbo, Buhl Planetarium and Observatory

First Published 2012-02-09 20:20:49
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