Laura Dvorak 5:47 p.m., Dec. 6
Jupiter and the Winter Constellations
The Planet Jupiter remains prominent in the southwestern sky after dark in January through February; however, it will be ever lower in the sky into late February and March. In early April, Jupiter will be in conjunction with the sun, and we will not see it again until it becomes visible in the early-morning sky in May. On the eastern side of the sky, at dawn, Venus remains prominent, appearing as a brilliant "morning star," through March and beyond.
The Glittery, Bright "Winter Constellations" of Orion, Taurus, Auriga, Gemini, Canis Major, and Canis Minor are best seen during the early evening hours of late January and early February. By Tuesday, February 8, the waxing crescent moon's increasingly bright glare will begin to diminish the impact of the starry scene, and that interference will worsen until full moon on the 18th. The bright winter constellations happen to include about one-third of the most luminous stars appearing in the night sky. The brightest star of all, Sirius, lies in the constellation of Canis Major. Sirius appears as a scintillating, bluish point of light high over the southeast or south horizon during winter early-evening hours. The second-brightest star of the night sky, Canopus, can be seen hovering very low over the south horizon whenever Sirius is nearing its highest altitude (about 40 degrees) in the southern sky. For early February, this happens around 9 p.m.