The winter night sky

Norbert Vance, an Eastern Michigan University professor, is our very own personal star encyclopedia. At the EMU Planetarium on the fourth floor of the science complex, he has shown me many different stars and other parts of the starry night sky at different times of the season of snow and cold weather.

Orion is a constellation viewed best in the winter night sky. Orion is made up of a belt of three stars; Mintaka, Alnilam and Alnitak. This constellation is one of the brightest and recognizable in the colder months.

Sirius is another star to look out for in the next few months. It is the brightest star in the Milky Way because it is only eight and a half light years away from Earth.

When looking for Sirius, do not make the common mistake of perceiving it as the North Star. Sirius is actually located in the south.

Just before midnight, Dec. 30, take a step outside to view Jupiter and the moon close together in the night sky.

Christmas day, most of us will be oblivious to the black hole located directly 28,000 light years behind the shining sun. This black mass is actually the heart of the Milky Way.

This New Year will bring us a bright and exciting trio in our winter night sky. Just before sunrise Jan. 7 we can view Venus, Saturn and the Moon. They will be bunched closely in the east.

The night sky is even available for viewing during the day at www.stellarium.org. Visit this link and receive the free download to view constellation patterns, stars, and planets at today’s date and other dates too. This free download even contains the same software used in the EMU Planetarium to view the sky.


Comments powered by Disqus