We’re getting closer to winter, and that means a lot of students are waking up to their alarm and finding the sky still dark. Take that as a positive, because there’s plenty to see in the sky during your walk to campus, wait at the bus stop or morning search for a parking spot.
Look east in the morning sky from 4 a.m. through to full sunrise, and three unusually bright “stars” will jump out at you, closely clustered — but they aren’t stars. The brightest is Venus, in the middle is Jupiter and on the bottom, with a noticeable burnt-orange tinge, is Mars. Try to view before the end of October to take advantage of dark, moonless skies.
Late in October, the brightest star in the Northern Hemisphere, Sirius, becomes prominent in the southern skies in the early morning. Find it by looking due South and finding a bright, flickering star low in the sky. Sirius “flashes” from red to blue because it is actually a binary system — two stars that appear as one to the naked eye.
The constellation Orion the Hunter becomes increasingly prominent in the evening skies this month. Find it by looking east around 11:30 p.m. for three bright stars in a diagonal row — Orion’s “belt.” In the morning, Orion will still be visible in the south-west.