Orion continues to “stand tall”, high in the south at 9 o’clock this evening. Looking below his characteristic belt of three stars, you’ll find a star-like patch of light, suggesting a sword or scabbard. Rather than a star, this is the Great Orion Nebula – a glowing area of gases, and a nursery for new stars.

Near 11:15 PM this evening, a waning Gibbous Moon lifts into the east-southeast in the company of the steely-blue star Spica, their second encounter this month. They’ll be a bit higher as February arrives at midnight, continuing into the southeast by 2:00 AM, and due south at 4:30 AM. They’re still eye-catching as twilight begins after 6 o’clock.

In the dark of early evening, look to the east-southeast between 6:15 and 6:30 PM – a little later if you have hills or trees in the way – for the brilliant star Sirius to rise. The brightest star in our night skies, Sirius is nearly 4 times hotter than the surface of our Sun, causing it to appear a bluish-white.