January Tonight’s Sky: Constellations
The winter sky is filled with brilliant stars.
Orion the hunter is the centerpiece, striding into the night sky with a belt of three stars.
Above Orion lies a five-sided figure that forms Auriga, the charioteer, who was associated with goats.
Its brightest star is Capella, which is actually a pair of giant yellow stars.
Auriga balances on a horn of Taurus the bull.
In Greek mythology, Taurus was seen as the god Zeus in disguise.
His eye is orange Aldebaran, a red giant star nearing the end of its life.
A number of the stars that form the bull’s V-shaped head are part of a star cluster called the Hyades.
The bull’s shoulder is marked by the distinctive Pleiades star cluster, also called the Seven Sisters.
The cluster contains more than 250 stars, but only six or seven are visible to the naked eye.
This view of the Pleiades from the Palomar Observatory shows the brightest stars surrounded by a dusty cloud.
The dust reflects the blue light of these hot stars.
At the tip of Taurus’s horn lies the Crab Nebula.
The Crab is the remains of a star that exploded as a supernova, observed by Chinese, Japanese, and Arab astronomers in 1054.
Telescopes on the ground and in space have observed different forms of light given off by the Crab Nebula.
Different wavelengths of visible and invisible light reveal details of the supernova remnant.
Combining information from different wavelengths helps us better understand the expanding cloud of glowing gas and the spinning neutron star that remains at its core.
Celestial wonders await you in Tonight’s Sky.