More Stargazing (Orion in the winter)
One more sure sign of winter is the triumphant return of “Orion the Hunter” to the night sky. As the earth travels around the sun, only the constellations near Polaris, the “North Star,” stay with us year-round, and they change position. A good example is the big dipper, which is west of Polaris in the summer, but east in the winter; right side up in the fall, but dumping out in the spring. As you get farther away from Polaris, many of the constellations disappear altogether in certain seasons. That’s because when the earth is on the other side of the sun we are facing those stars during the day. So they haven’t gone anywhere--we just can’t see them. We are coming back around now to Orion, that centerpiece of the winter sky so famous for his three-star belt. If you look to the east around 9:00 pm you can see him rising. Late in the night he is up high and mighty untill the rising sun takes over all with its blinding rays.