Look Up! ... Orion Rules the Winter Night

Hello Night Sky Travelers,
February 9, 11:20 pm PST marked the beginning of a new lunar cycle that ends March 11. "Our New Moon ... lies in late sidereal Capricorn where the constellations Aquarius and Capricorn overlap. ... These stars express a progressive and fortuitous energetic, often associated with good tidings, especially regarding business dealings and legalities. They impel articulate expression and are action oriented. ... Dreamtime can be extra-revelatory in this lunar cycle. Our Last Quarter Moon can motivate a life-changing turn." For more insights see Nick Fiorenza's lunar theme article, Fortuity.

Orion Gives Birth ~ Rules the Winter Night

Image: NASA / JPL–Caltech / STScI

Orion the Hunter gives birth to stars! This Spitzer/Hubble infrared and visible-light composite shows an artistic masterpiece of turbulent and chaotic energies that baby stars are creating 1,500 light years away in the Orion Nebula. Four monstrously massive stars, collectively known as the Trapezium located at the center of this cosmic cloud may be the main culprits of this gorgeous chaos. "These behemoths are approximately 100,000 times brighter than our sun." JPL

[This] image from NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes looks more like an abstract painting than a cosmic snapshot. … It was "painted" by hundreds of baby stars on a canvas of gas and dust, with intense ultraviolet light and strong stellar winds as brushes. NASA's Full Caption / Description

The Orion Nebula is the nearest star formation region to the Earth and consequently particularly well studied. Despite this, star formation is not all that well understood. astro.nineplanets.org

More than half of the 25 brightest stars appear overhead in the winter sky making it the brightest night sky of all the seasons.

It is no coincidence that the brightest stars congregate here [the winter sky], for this is where many stellar nurseries reside, including the marvelous Orion Nebula (M42). Massive stars begin their lives in such cocoons and burn most brightly. Scan this region with binoculars to see one marvel after another. Astronomy Magazine 2/03

The Orion Nebula (M42) is easily visible as a fuzzy star with the unaided eye.

Everyone loves Orion's bright stars but it is one of his dimmer stars that will blow you away. Face southeast in the early evening and below Orion's three belt stars you'll see three dimmer stars which make up his sword. But no matter how sharp your eyesight the middle star always seems to look fuzzy, out of focus. [Image] That's because it isn't a star at all but a humongous cosmic cloud of gas and dust where new stars are being born. We call it the Orion Nebula and there is enough material here to produce over ten thousand stars the size of our Sun. Indeed, this nebula is so huge we could line up 20,000 of our solar systems end to end from one edge of it to the other. How's that for a fuzzy little star? Star Gazer

All of February, hour-glass shaped Orion lies high in the South from 7:00pm - 9:00pm. By 11:00pm this giant Hunter can be seen above the western horizon.

The three belt stars of Orion, which represent the Three Wise Men, point to paired reddish Aldebaran and brilliant Jupiter in one direction, Mid Feb.11pm West ... Late Feb.11pm West, and to Sirius our brightest star in the other direction Map.

In other words, Orion's "Three Wise Men" point to Aldebaran our star of enlightenment and to Sirius our spiritual Sun. In addition, Jupiter remains in close proximity to Aldebaran throughout February and March.

It is said that Jupiter transmits cosmic forces into our solar system. Jupiter bridges, fuses and blends, freeing us from duality. This giant planet expands our hearts and minds bringing out the best in all, producing wisdom and the externalization of the Divine Plan in our solar system.

Look Up! Ponder on and be receptive to this breath-taking and extraordinary line-up of celestial energies. They can expand your consciousness with new insights and visions. Pay attention to your dreams, which can be extra-revelatory during this lunar cycle. Listen deeply. March 4 "our Last Quarter Moon can motivate a life-changing turn." Nick Fiorenza

Navigating with Orion

4 Brightest Stars of Orion the Hunter

Orion's shoulder star is our Valentine's star!

Orion's shoulder star is a point of the equilateral Winter Triangle.

Orion's left leg is a point of the Winter Hexagon.

Orion's belt stars have nifty names.

Orion and His Rival

Jupiter's 4 largest moons can be seen in a dark sky with binoculars.

Mercury ... is at its 2013 evening best during February. The planet rises higher as February unfolds. It reaches greatest elongation (distance from the Sun) February 16, afterward it sinks back toward the horizon.
Mars ... can be viewed with binoculars below Mercury.
See Mercury At Sunset paired with binocular Mars.

Saturn ... rises after midnight around 1:00am and is high in the south at dawn. Look south about 30 minutes before sunrise. Bluish Spica, the brightest star of Virgo the Virgin, lies west (right) of yellowish Saturn.
Mid-Feb. Map ... Late Feb.Map

Venus ... our glorious "morning star" is now too close to the Sun to be seen. The planet will reappear as our blazing "evening star" in May, above the sunset western horizon.

Jupiter ... Has been discussed in the Orion section above.

See Night Sky Info for more on each planet.

February 11-13, Monday-Wednesday, 45 minutes after sunset
The Moon makes a good guide for viewing Mercury. Use binoculars to view dim Mars hugging the horizon. Map

Mid Feb.Map ... Late Feb.Map ... 30 minutes after sunset, looking west.

February 14, Thursday, overhead 8:00 - 9:00pm
Find Orion's Valentine's Star!

February 15, Friday ... Record Setting Asteroid FlyBy
An asteroid about half the size of a football field will fly past Earth closer than many man-made satellites. Since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s, astronomers have never seen an object so big come so close to our planet.

February 16, Saturday ... Mercury is farthest east of the setting Sun.
The farther north you live, the later Mercury sets after sunset; the farther south you live, the sooner. The earlier you look after sunset the higher Mercury will appear above the horizon in a lighter sky. Binoculars are helpful in first spotting the planet.
Late Dusk Map / Text ... Another View
BTW:Mercury sinks back toward the horizon after this date.

February 17, Sunday ... The First Quarter Moon lies near Jupiter.
Map / Text ... Constellation View
Notice how the Moon moves below Jupiter as late night unfolds. Map
BTW: Look SE after midnight to See Saturn and Spica. Map

February 18, Monday ... Moon and Jupiter SW Mid-Evening Map

February 19, Tuesday ... Moon at Taurus' southern horn tip Map / Text

February 20, Wednesday ... Moon in the "Winter Circle" Map / Text This configuration of stars is also known as the Winter Hexagon and Sacred Hoop (scroll to find "Sacred Hoop")

February 24, Sunday ... Moon and Regulus Map / Text

February 28 - March 1, Thursday - Friday ... Late Night: after midnight 'til dawn ... These observations are for night owls and early birds! 2/28 Map / Text ... 3/1 Map /Text


This lunar cycle, which ends March 11 is "progressive and fortuitous ... a very significant lunar cycle for the emergence of the feminine force in the world ... Several planetary aspects occur in the first few days of the lunar cycle. Many more continue throughout the lunar month, making for a dynamic lunar cycle, one that is mobilizing and that impels progressive and wide sweeping change." - Nick Fiorenza

Synchronicity sensitivity
mystic moon,
insights glimmer through the reality schism.
... Restless questioning ...
dance in the moonlight of collective dreams.

- Jacqueline Lasahn / New Moon


Look Up! ... Look Within,
Susan Sun at The Night Sky