How to Find Winter Constellations
in the Northern Hemisphere
Above: Winter Star Chart for the Northern Hemisphere
Below: Test you knowledge of the winter sky.
Can you find Orion, Canis Major and Minor, Taurus and Gemini above?
The Winter Hexagon (or Winter Circle)
Connect-the-Stars to form the Winter Hexagon
Click here: Winter Circle (Hexagon)
Get to know the Winter Circle:
Above: Winter Circle (note star color):
Capella is yellow.
Aldebaran is orange.
Betelgeuse is red.
Rigel is blue.
Sirius is blue-white.
Above: The Stars of Orion the Hunter (with distances in lightyears)
BETELGEUSE is a RED SUPERGIANT star, and will explode as a SUPERNOVA in the future!
Betelgeuse is Arabic for "arm pit of the giant."
Above: How to find Sirius, the dog star ( the #1 brightest star in the winter sky )
Sirius can be thought of as the diamond in the collar of the dog, Canis Major.
Use Orion to find: Taurus, Lepus, Canis Major and Minor, Gemini
If you can find Orion, you can find Taurus and the Pleiades.
The Pleiades Star Cluster = The "Seven Sisters"
Subaru = Pleiades (in Japanese)
Orion the Hunter: Try to find Betelgeuse, Rigel, and both hazy, gas Nebulas (Horsehead & Orion)
There is a UNICORN between the two dogs! ( MONOCEROS )
Orion is a great hunter. Run, Lepus, run...
Auriga the Charioteer shares a star (Alnath) with Taurus the Bull
Auriga contains the bright, yellow star Capella, part of the Winter Circle.
The triangle of three stars below Capella represent the three goats:
Greek Myth: Phaethon (Auriga), Helios, the Chariot of the Sun, and the River Eridanus
Click here: Video: The January Sky 2015 / January Planets 2015
Northern February Constellations
Above: The Big Dipper's seasonally changing position in the sky.
Above: The Five Northern Circumpolar Constellations:
( Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Ursa Minor, Draco, Ursa Major )
Above: Swirl around Polaris, the North Pole Star
Concord, MA - 36 Minute Exposure (Thanks Maya C.)
Use the pointer stars of the Big Dipper to pass Polaris...
...find the four (4) members of the ROYAL FAMILY of the northern night sky:
(King Cepheus) and (Queen Cassiopeia)
(Princess Andromeda) and (Perseus the Hero)
The King and Queen: Cepheus and Cassiopeia
Princess Andromeda and her hero, Perseus
Below: Cetus (Perseus saved Andromeda from this Sea Monster)
Below: Pegasus, Andromeda, Perseus and Cassiopeia
Click here: Andromeda
Above: Look for the Andromeda Galaxy in the armpit of the princess!
Draco and the Dippers...
Note: The Big and Little Dippers are not constellations, but are called Asterisms.
An Asterism is a collection of known stars in the sky that is NOT a constellation.
( ie: Big Dipper, Little Dipper, Summer Triangle, Winter Circle, The Pleiades )
Pointer stars (Merak and Dubhe) in the "Big Dipper" lead to the North Star.
The Big Dipper (asterism) is actually part of Ursa Major (the Great Bear).
Polaris (the North Star) is in the Little Dipper, which is part of Ursa Minor (the Small Bear).
Ursa Major and Ursa Minor
The Big and Little Dippers with Draco
Learn More: Draco the Dragon / Ursa Major and Ursa Minor - The Bears & Dippers
Name that Constellation...