Stargazing: Jupiter and the stars of winter
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Jupiter and the brilliant stars of winter are now visible above the southeastern horizon at 8 p.m. When searching for Jupiter, first locate Orion and the three stars that form his belt. Two stars mark Orion's shoulders and two more his knees. Betelgeuse, Orion's right shoulder, is a red giant star. It appears pale red because of its low surface temperature. The bright star Rigel, in Orion's left knee is the opposite of Betelgeuse. It is a very hot blue star.
A line drawn up through Orion's belt will lead to Taurus, the Bull, and the bright star in the eye of the bull, Aldebaran. Dazzling bright Jupiter is about 5 degrees above Aldebaran.
A line down through the low side of Orion's belt will lead to the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius in Canis Major, the Big Dog. Sirius is a hot blue-white star. Canis Minor, the Small Dog, and its bright yellow-white star, Procyon, are to the east of Betelgeuse.
First Published January 7, 2013 12:00 am