January Constellations With Star Chart
We are heading into the heart of winter here in the Northern Hemisphere and the night sky is dominated by the constellation Orion. We’ve talked about Orion in previous posts, so I thought I would concentrate on some of the lesser known constellations that can be seen during the month of January. I’ve also included a handy star chart to guide you along the way.
Let’s start with Taurus. The constellation Taurus is meant to depict a bull. It can be found just above Orion. You can find two Messier within Taurus – both of which are very famous! The first is the Crab Nebula (M1, NGC 1952). The Crab Nebula is what’s left over from a gigantic supernova explosion and is located about 6,500 light years away from Earth. The second object within Taurus is the Pleiades (M45) or Seven Sisters. The Pleiades is a tight, open star cluster located about 440 light years away from Earth.
Another lesser known constellation is called Monoceros. Monoceros means Unicorn in Greek. This constellation lies to east of Orion and south of Gemini. This one is tough to see with the naked eye however because it’s comprised mainly fourth magnitude stars. You’ll have to observe it with a small telescope, but it’s well worth the trouble. Monoceros is the home to a very interesting triple star system called Beta Monocerotis. William Herschel discovered this beauty in 1781.
Finally, the constellation Aries can be found to the west of Taurus. Aries, which means the Ram, was one of the original 48 constellations named by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy. Aries is the home to a couple of deep sky objects – two galaxies NGC 697 and NGC 772.
What better way to bring in the New Year than to get outside and look at the stars! Happy New Year everyone!