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02/12/2016 – Ephemeris – A circle of bright stars in winter

February 12, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, February 12th.  The Sun will rise at 7:48.  It’ll be up for 10 hours and 18 minutes, setting at 6:06.   The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 11:19 this evening.

The winter skies are blessed with more first magnitude stars than any other season.  With the moon out these stars will stand out even more, as dimmer stars are suppressed.  Six of these stars lie in a large circle centered on the seventh, the Winter Circle.

This circle is up at 9 p.m.  Starting high nearly overhead is Capella in Auriga the charioteer.  Moving clockwise down to the south, we come to Aldebaran in the face of Taurus the Bull.  Then down to Orion’s knee we find Rigel.  Down and left is the brightest star of all Sirius in Canis Major Orion’s large hunting dog, lowest of these stars in the southeast.  Moving up and left there is Procyon in Canis Minor,  Above is Pollux in Gemini the twins.  All are centered on Betelgeuse the bright red star in Orion’s shoulder.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Winter Circle

The bright stars of winter arrayed in a circle. Created using Stellarium.

Some also see a Winter Triangle consisting of the stars Betelgeuse, Sirius and Procyon.

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