It’s hard to believe that we will even see much of the night sky, as I write this in the pattern of this winter’s snow storms. With the change of seasons and Spring ready to show up soon, I’ll trust that by the time you read this there’ll be clear skies to grace our nights and maybe some warmth too!
In Summer we have the “famous” summer triangle asterism [the name of a grouping of stars that is not a constellation]. In the winter we have the winter hexagon. It involves some favorites we’ve been discussing and some we haven’t. Starting with our favorites. At the bottom of the six sided figure is the constellation Canis Major and it’s brightest of all stars: Sirius. To the right and up is Rigel who is the right knee of Orion the hunter [our right]. Up from there is the warm and bright Aldebaran in the Hyades cluster, the “V” shape in Taurus the Bull, his face actually. Now up and to the left, continuing around is Capella that bright star in Auriga next to a cute little triangle called “The Kids” who are the Charioteer’s little goat kids. Capella is the upper apex of the hexagon so starting down to the left is Pollux the brighter of Gemini’s two brothers, further down to Procyon in Canis Minor, the little dog and back to Sirius where we begun at the bottom. Now Mars is in there to, but don’t let him confuse the issue. He’s kind of in the upper middle of the hexagon and this is a good moment to compare him with Aldebaran off to his right, both have a lovely warmth: ruddy, reddish, oranganish, what do you think?Actually the summer triangle is not far off. You’ll find it pretty well risen in the east even before dawn; like an old friend promising warm weather, the good night viewings of stars, and other summer fun. It will be rising earlier, and can easily be seen by around ten PM during late June.Of Special note:Moons of this season are full on March on 20th, the Lenten Moon, Sap Moon, Crow Moon or Worm Moon. April’s full moon is on the 20th as well and is called the Egg Moon, Grass Moon, Easter Moon or Paschal Moon.The Spring Equinox is on March 20th early morning on the east coast but late night on the 19th for us on the west coast. This is when the day and night more or less match in length and summer is one spring season away.Also of note is the time change in March: “daylight-savings” which is really just a shift in time. The mnemonic is “spring forward, fall back” so spring your time ahead one hour at 2 AM on Sunday March ninth to stay “in time” with the rest of us. A strange thing about this strange change is that when the sun is at it’s zenith, it’s highest, it’s 1 PM instead of at 12 noon the logical moment. Personally I wish we didn’t do this arbitrary time control.