NASA Reveals January Night Sky Spectacles

Night Sky
The Summer Triangle asterism hangs in the upper left corner of this image of the Milky Way | Image by Preston Dyches/NASA

NASA revealed its Night Sky Notes for the month of January on Monday, which focused on the potential to see asterisms.

Asterisms, like constellations, are patterns and shapes formed by distant stars in the night sky. Orion is one such structure. However, it is also part of a much larger asterism that contains six other constellations known as the Winter Circle, or Winter Hexagon.

NASA announced that stargazers can spot this particular asterism as well as the Diamond of Virgo this month. The Winter Circle contains stars such as Rigel, Aldebaran, Capella, Pollux, Procyon, and Sirius while the Diamond of Virgo encompasses Arcturus in the constellation Boötes; Cor Caroli in Canes Venatici; Denebola in Leo; and Spica in Virgo.

Viewers can also find the Coma Berenices, or Bernice’s Hair cluster, an “ancient asterism turned constellation,” at the center of the Diamond of Virgo.

NASA explains that tracing these structures can lead one to find other structures such as star clusters or galaxies.

Stargazers are advised to use star maps and applications and familiarize themselves with constellations to find these stellar structures.

“Orient yourself by using bright stars, or recognizable constellations. This will help you navigate the night sky and pinpoint specific asterisms. Vega in the Lyra constellation is a great example of this,” said NASA in a press release.

Other seasonal asterisms such as the Summer Triangle and the Great Square of Pegasus will be visible later this year.

Residents in North Texas can also expect a rare celestial spectacle later this year. The first total solar eclipse in decades is expected to pass over the State of Texas, including the City of Dallas, on April 8 as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

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