Winter Is Coming
It may feel like winter here in Chicago, but the calendar says it is still late autumn. Nonetheless, this is the perfect week to get a preview of the brilliant stars (and one giant planet) in the winter sky. As evening progresses, more and more of these bright objects rise above the eastern horizon. Below, I’ve listed them in order of when they rise high enough in the east to be seen.
6:30 pm Central time: the bright stars Capella and Aldebaran
Capella is to the left and higher than Aldebaran; also, Capella is a bright yellow-white, while you may notice an orange tint to Aldebaran.
8:30 pm Central time: the bright stars Betelgeuse and Rigel, in the easily recognizable constellation Orion
Betelgeuse is on the upper left and has a reddish tint, while Rigel is on the lower right and has a blue-white tint; Orion’s belt splits the two down the middle.
9:00 pm Central time: the giant planet Jupiter, with the stars Pollux and Castor
Jupiter is amazingly bright, and Pollux and Castor (representing the two twins of Gemini) are to its left; Pollux is the brighter of the two and it is lower as well. Jupiter outshines them both.
10:30 pm Central time: Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, with the star Procyon
Sirius blazes bright white; only Jupiter is brighter. Procyon is a good bit left and above Sirius. These two are the dog stars, Sirius in Canis Major (the greater dog) and Procyon in Canis Minor (the lesser dog).
All these objects will rise earlier and earlier as the weeks pass. By mid-winter, they will be visible all night long!