02/17/2017 – Ephemeris – The stars of the Belt of Orion
Ephemeris for Friday, February 17th. The Sun will rise at 7:39. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 35 minutes, setting at 6:14. The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 1:15 tomorrow morning.
Let’s take a closer look at the central constellation of the winter sky, the giant hunter Orion. His most remarkable feature in his Belt of three stars in a straight line. It’s the brightest, straightest and most equidistant line of stars I know of. It points down and left to the brightest star Sirius the dog star and up to the right of Aldebaran the angry bloodshot eye in Taurus the bull. The star names as taught to me by Grand Rapids Public Museum curator Evelyn Grebel in my youth in the 1950s was from left to right Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka. All the names reference a belt or girdle. Alnitak lights up a faint cloud that can sometimes be glimpsed with binoculars called the Flame Nebula, Just below it and invisible except in photographs is the Horsehead Nebula.
Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.