What's Up: The Sky Tonight


Each month on this page, the Big Sky Astronomy club hosts a video, produce by the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) featuring the planets, deep sky objects and one or more of the constellations that are visible in our night sky at this particular time of year.


Tonight's Sky, during the month of January, 2019:

  • Three distinctive constellations grace our Winter skies during January 2019.

  • The easily recognizable shape of Orion, the Hunter, is prominent, sporting its brillian belt of three stars;

  • Above Orion lies Auriga, the Charioteer and its brightest star Capella;

  • Capella is actually a binary star system consisting of a pair of giant yellow suns;

  • To the west of Orion and below Aurgiga lies the mighty bull Taurus;

  • In Greek Mythology, Taurus represented the kink of the gods Zeus in desguise;

  • The brilliant orange star Aldebaran marks the bull's eye. Aldebaran is a red giant star, nearing the end of its life;

  • The star's name comes from the Arabic and means "the follower" because it "follows" the Hyades star cluster across the sky;

  • The Hyades cluster is the nearest cluster of stars to Earth at just over 150 light years. It containes several hundred stars, some of which form the prominent horns of "The Bull";

  • Situated to the west of the Hyades is another naked-eye star cluster - the Pleiades or the "Seven Sisters";

  • The Pleiades cluster is also fairly close to the Earth at a distance of about 450 light years. It contains over 250 stars, but only six or seven are visible to the naked eye;

  • The Pleiades is passing through a part of our neighborhood that contains a large amount of dust and gas. This can be seen as blue light being reflected off the clouds;

  • Just off the tip of one of Taurus's horns lies the Crab Nebula, the expanding remains of giant star that exploded in a supernova. In the year 1054 AD, Chinese and Arab astronomers noted its appearance in the night sky;

  • By imaging the nebula in different wavelengths of light, astronomers can study its composition and learn about the expanding shell of gas and the rapidly spinning neutron star at its center.

Watch "Tonight's Sky" for December, 2018 graciously provided by the fine folks at HubbleSite.org:

We cordially invite you to

"Discover the Universe with The Big Sky Astronomy Club"