For those attuned to western numerology, they are finally out the year xx13. In Asian cultures 4 is considered unlucky, so perhaps xxx4 will not be a good year for some people.
Winter is upon us in Northern America and aside for short walks for the dog, venturing outside in -25c temperatures in the dark is only done as a necessity and not for the pleasure of viewing the winter sky. However, the winter sky in North America does offer some spectacularly sites.
Orion, one of the most recognizable constellations, is front and centre in January. Surrounding Orion is the “Winter Six” – 6 of the brightest stars in the northern hemisphere arrange in a hexagon. At 9pm mid-month, Orion is about south-east. The winter six – Sirius (m -1.6), Procyon (m 0.4), Pollux (m 1.2), Capella (m 0.1), Aldebaran (m 0.8) and Rigel (m 0.2) surround Orion.
Orion The Hunter is home to a number of interesting and very accessible night sky objects. The Orion Nebula (M42) is a very bright and large HA emission nebula surrounding the middle star or Orion’s sword.
Unadied, the middle star of the sword appears a bit fuzzy. With binoculars, its apparent that the “star” is actually several stars surrounding by a grey cloud. With a 4″ refractor, the “cloud” starts to take shape as a distinct luminous region. Careful oberservers will also note that the “star” at the centre of the nebula is actually a multiple star. Visually it appears as a group of 4 stars known as the “trapezium”. Even Galileo observed this multiple star system and even noted the 5th and 6th memmbers of this complex multiple star system.