Stars light up the nighttime winter sky and constellations are bright and clearly visible. Some of these stars can be viewed with the naked eye. Most people have looked at the night sky and thrilled at the chance to view one of the many constellations they may have learned about in school.
It is true that a good pair of binoculars will tend to come in handy. Some casual observers will want to eventually start getting a closer look at the twinkling lights in the sky. Binoculars are a great way to start. They are portable and lightweight enough to carry anywhere. There is no rigorous set-up required. Yet the binoculars will bring star-gazers the added closeness of the ever awe-inspiring skies above.
There is always something to see. No matter where a person happens to be in the world, the night sky is full of wonders. Orion and the Pleiades can be seen when winter comes around. Orion is one of the better known constellations.
Orion was name comes from Greek mythology; he was a hunter. There are three main stars in the middle of the constellation that make up Orion’s belt. They form what is known as an asterism. Just south of Orion’s belt is the Orion Nebula. This well-known constellation can be found on what is known as the celestial equator.
The other constellation that can be seen clearly is known as The Pleiades, sometimes commonly referred to as The Seven Sisters. It is a cluster of stars located within the constellation named Taurus the Bull. They are the stars that can be seen with the light from them closely grouped together and brightly holding their place in the sky. This constellation of bright lights was created about 100 million years in the past.
Greek mythology has seven of the stars named after Atlas and Pleione’s seven daughters. Binoculars are all that is needed to view these stars. The February sky is one of the best times for viewing this group.
These constellations are not the only famous stars that can be viewed in the winter sky. The band of the Milky Way is also visible. This galaxy is one that contains the earth and its’ Solar System. The Milky Way can be seen as a band of light visible across the horizon. There are many galaxies and the Milky Way is one that people can view with or without binoculars.
There are a couple of planets that can also be seen in the February winter sky. Mercury, Jupiter and Mars are visible. Jupiter, however, is the easiest to see. Jupiter can be best viewed with binoculars. Half of the four moons of this planet should be visible as well. Jupiter can be viewed as an extremely colorful planet in the sky. It is currently at the high point of being visible from earth.
February is a great time to witness the wonders of the winter sky. Some observatories have viewings that are open to the public. In order to witness an up close view of the stars shining brightly in the constellations, binoculars are an added bonus. However, a trip to the observatory could provide a closer view of Jupiter. It could also bring into view an intense light. The galaxy Ursa Major has in its midst an exploding star. The SN 2014J is what it has been named. It is located 12 million light years from earth, but it is still the closest supernova in over 20 years. This supernova took place millions of years in the past but will be visible from earth for many weeks.
by Saki Kahala