Friday, January 27, 2006

February 1, 2001

This month's Star Notes is dedicated to our new president, whose lowest grade at Yale was in astronomy.

Were George W. to look up in the early evening this month, he would see the winter sky in all its glory. Magnificent Orion, with his distinctive three-star belt, stands tall in the middle of the southern sky.

Circling him from lower left are Sirius, the brightest star in the whole sky, then Procyon, then Pollux and Castor, then Capella, which is at the zenith, and finally Aldebaran, whose reddish tint sets it off nicely from brilliant Jupiter to its upper right.

Now let us peal the onion of Orion, for there is also an inner layer of bright stars. These are, if you will, his shoulders and knees, above and below his luminous belt. The most prominent are Betelgeuse to the upper left and Rigel to the lower right.

Tonight, the first of February, Jupiter, Saturn, and the moon are all in a line. They put in a repeat performance on the last day of February as well.

Meanwhile, Venus not only is a beacon in the west all month for a few hours after sunset, but also can be seen in full daylight in the afternoon, a quarter of the sky to the left of the sun.

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