Mars rising in the east

Mars makes an appearance this winter in the eastern sky. Look for a bright reddish “star” in the east, about half-way up from the horizon to the zenith (top of the sky), about 10 or 11 p.m. For those with a knowledge of constellations (which you’d have after reading Up North!), the planet is between the constellations of Leo and Gemini this season.

Bright winter stars and planets

Make sure to look up when outside on a clear, cold January night. The brilliant Orion constellation, with the famous 3 “belt stars,” shines in the south sky in the evening. Below and left of Orion is the bright star Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. Also called the Dog Star, this star is located in the summer sky during the daytime, and therefore not visible, but the source of the expression “the dog days of summer,” since its star-shine is supposedly added to the heat of the day. In the early evening, Jupiter shines brightly low in the west and will soon disappear from our view. Meanwhile, Mars is rising in the east this month… look for a reddish star.

Meteor shower Jan. 4

The Quadrantid meteor shower takes to the skies Jan. 4, but it’s a tough one for Ontario and North Woods stargazers. The weather outside is frightful for skygazing, of course, and the nature of the Quadrantids means peak times only last a few hours close to twilight. Best viewing is actually from western North America. The shower emanates from its “radiant” located in the Bootes constellation, and the shower’s name comes from an old constellation that was removed from the charts by international agreements in the early 20th century. Remember to mark Aug. 11 on your calendar for the Perseid meteor shower… much better viewing weather!