Weekly Stargazing Tips

Provided by StarDate.org. Unless otherwise specified, viewing times are local time regardless of time zone, and are good for the entire Lower 48 states (and, generally, for Alaska and Hawaii).

January 29: Hydra

Hydra, the water snake, wriggles into the evening sky this month. Its brightest star, Alphard, climbs into view in the east-southeast by around 9 p.m. It is not very bright, but it’s in a barren region of the sky, so it’s not hard to find.

January 30: Horsehead

Orion the hunter climbs high across the southern sky tonight. Its most prominent feature is its “belt” of three bright stars. Not far from the belt is a dark cloud that, through a telescope, looks like the knight in a chess game: the Horsehead Nebula.

January 31: Adhara

Sirius, the brightest true star in the night sky, is low in the southeast at nightfall. It is the leading light of Canis Major. The big dog’s second-brightest star, Adhara, perches below it, forming one of the dog’s legs.

February 1: Celebrating Spring

In many cultures, the seasons changed on days that fell half way between a solstice and an equinox, known as cross-quarter days. One of those days was marked in early February. In Scotland and Ireland it came around February 1st and was known as Imbolc.

February 2: Dubhe

The Big Dipper is in the northeast as darkness falls on February nights. It rotates high above the North Star later on. It’s led by Dubhe, the star at the lip of the dipper’s bowl. Dubhe consists of four stars. The brightest is a stellar giant.

February 3: Moon and Aldebaran

Aldebaran, the bright orange eye of the bull, stands close to the Moon at nightfall. Aldebaran is nearing the end of its life. It has puffed up to many times the size of the Sun, causing its outer layers to cool and brighten.

February 4: Earth’s Shadow

Shortly after sunset on any evening, look eastward to see Earth’s own shadow climbing into view. In a clear sky it forms a dark blue band below a band of bright pink or orange. The shadow climbs higher as the twilight fades.