As Winter turned to Spring here in Eastern Massachusetts, tonight’s sky was spectacular (the image above is a fairly good approximation). At about 9 o’clock facing West, there was an amazing view of Orion looming in the middle of the sky, with Canis Major following close on his heels. Up and to the right was Taurus, and further on, the Pleiades. Directly above Orion, Jupiter shone brightly in the middle of Gemini. Over my left shoulder was Leo, and directly behind me was the Big Dipper (or Ursa Major, if you prefer). The stars were especially clear and bright with a dark background sky. Through a 10×50 binoculars, the Pleiades cluster looked like 7 scattered diamonds on sparkling velvet. The individual stars Betelgeuse and Aldebaran were bright orange, and Sirius and Rigel cold blue. Orion’s belt and sword, including the Orion Nebula, were crystal clear (though not nearly as colorful as in all the photographs you see online). Even through my binoculars, I could make out two of Jupiter’s moons, and when I got out my 70mm telescope Calisto, Ganymede, and Io stretched out like little jewels on both sides of the planet’s striped disk. Apparently, Europa was in front of Jupiter at the time:
If all that sounded like a lot of Greek (or Roman, or Arabic) to you, try reading H.A. Rey’s
Find the Constellations. It’s great place to start learning about the stars. No telescope or binoculars required.