On the next clear night, it should be quite easy to find the brightest star – the North Star, right? No! As you scan the skies, tonight our brightest star starts low in the southeast near 6 o’clock, and will be due south at 9:05 PM. You are watching Sirius, known commonly as the “Dog Star”, relatively close to us at only 8 light years away.
Jupiter’s pairing with the wide waxing Crescent Moon this evening actually shares an interesting connection with Valentine’s Day. Jupiter hosts many of its own moons, 95 by last count, most of which were named for Jupiter’s (and his Greek counterpart Zeus) lovers. While they were many, recent discoveries expanded the names to his daughters as well.
Orion is in the south this evening, his left foot (on the right as we face him) denoted by the star Rigel, which is Arabic for “left foot”. The bright star that marks his right shoulder (on our left) is called Betelgeuse, also Arabic, though its meaning is less certain. Variations in the name suggest it means the hand, the shoulder, or the armpit.