Hey, sky fans! Last night, I was outside with the bag of trash. We have a long and storied relationship, and got a good look at the skies, as I hunted for Uranus and watched Venus set. While I was out, I got a look at a couple of quick asterisms I like a bunch. If you have a chance maybe give these a shot.
First, in the west after dark look for Venus and Mars. They’re in the very dim and spare constellation Pisces, the fish.
Just above Pisces, maybe as time goes on and the planets have set, you’ll see a… thing… almost a J-shape, or maybe a vague field hockey stick-looking thing. Believe it or not, that’s a ram. That’s the constellation Aries. There’s not a lot going on here, either, but it’s a neat little group of stars. The constellation’s brightest star is called Hamal, which is about the 50th brightest star in the sky, around as bright as Polaris, the north star.
Just to Aries’s right, to the north, is the small constellation, Triangulum. Yep, the triangle. Maybe it’s the musical instrument, maybe it’s the drafting tool. Maybe it’s just a triangle, but let’s not over think this.
Now, turn toward everyone’s favorite, Orion, the hunter, which is still standing tall in the southwest, to your left as you turn away from Aries. You know all about the big seven stars (Betelgeuse, Bellatrix, Alnitak, Alnilam, Mintaka, Saiph, and Rigel). The eighth brightest, I guess, is maybe where his head kind of is. It’s called Meissa.
If you look close, and can get away from obnoxious street lights, you can pick out a small, backward L-shaped asterism of three or four stars sitting there near it. Meissa’s the bright one at the top of the L. Through binoculars, you can see a small ladder of stars running up the L’s vertical leg between the dim and obscure Heka toward Meissa.
Hamal and Meissa are a couple of those wonderful, kind of off-brand stars that I’ve come to love and look forward to seeing almost more than the big name ones. If you can, take a few breaths outside tonight and have a look. Let me know you can see them. Do you have any of these asterisms that you like to check out, too?
Thanks for stopping by, everyone. As always, if you have any comments, questions, things you’d like to talk about let me know. Voulez les bon temps rouler, and clear skies, everyone!