Current Moon Phase

Waning Crescent
8% of full

Farmers Almanac
The 2017 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

This Week: The Winter Circle Lassos the Moon

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Add to Google+ Share on Pinterest Subscribe by Email Print This Post
This Week: The Winter Circle Lassos the Moon

High toward the south at around 8 p.m. this week we see a large formation of bright winter stars; a pattern that was first conceived by author Hans Augusto Rey (1898-1977) in his popular sky guide, The Stars – A New Way to See Them. Some star guides refer to this pattern as the “Winter Circle,” although the overall pattern looks much more like a hexagon.

Which stars make up the Winter Circle?
While it is not one of the 88 recognized constellations in our night sky, the Winter Circle is an asterism, defined an easily identified pattern of stars, and made up of these stars that are located within other constellations (note the many different colors of the stars):

  • Sirius (white) the brightest of all stars, in Canis Major
  • Rigel (blue) is in Orion
  • Aldebaran (orange), in Taurus, lies above Rigel
  • Capella (yellow) in Auriga is at the north end of the hexagon
  • Castor (white) and Pollux (orange), the heads of the Gemini twins
  • Procyon (yellowish-white) of Canis Minor

Inside the “circle” lies the intersection of the Celestial and Galactic Equators. The Celestial Equator is simply the plane of the Earth’s Equator, projected on the sky. The Galactic Equator lies in the plane of rotation of the Milky Way. The two are inclined to each other at 62 degrees. That value, corresponding to the angular difference between Earth’s axis and that of the galaxy, shows how far the Earth is tilted from the galactic viewpoint, and vice versa.

winter-circle

The Moon will be in the center of the Winter Circle (in blue0 this week! Image via Wikimedia Commons

The waxing gibbous Moon will be passing through the hexagon/circle between February 5th and 7th, though its increasingly bright light will somewhat diminish its prominence as compared to when there is no Moon around to squelch the light of the fainter background stars.

Articles you might also like...

0 comments

There are no comments yet...

Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment

Note: Comments that further the discussion of the above content are likely to be approved. Those comments that are vague or are simply submitted in order to promote a product, service or web site, although not necessarily considered "spam," are generally not approved.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

Spring Is Here – Sign Up Today!

The Farmers' Almanac is a gardener's best friend. Get 365 days of access to our online weather and gardening calendars + a copy of the 2017 Almanac
for only $13.99 $11.99!

Subscribe Today »