While you’re relaxing and reveling in the luxury of your backyard hot tub, sometimes it’s easy to ignore the nature all around you. During your next soak, take the time to sit back, and look up at the vast galaxy above you. Even if you’re a little rusty on your astronomy, you can still enjoy the star formations when you follow these guidelines to easily locate some of the most popular arrangements in the night sky.
The Big Dipper is a great constellation to start with because it’s bright and prominent. It’s a seven-star formation in the shape of a large ladle, which includes a handle and cup. During the spring and summer, the Big Dipper shines high in the northern sky, while in spring and winter, the constellation hangs low in the northern sky closer to the horizon.
Polaris, The North Star
Once you find the Big Dipper, it’s a cinch to locate Polaris, the North Star. Always located in the north, it’s a bright star, but contrary to popular belief, it’s not the brightest in the sky. The two stars that make up the outer portion of the Big Dipper’s cup point in the direction of Polaris. Simply draw an imaginary line out from the ends of the bowl and straight over to the North Star.
Now that you’ve located the North Star, you’re close to seeing the Little Dipper. In fact, the North Star is the last one in the handle of the Little Dipper’s ladle. Just like the larger ladle, the Little Dipper includes a cup and handle portion. You’ll notice that in relation to the smaller arrangement of stars, the Big Dipper’s cup points down toward the handle of the Little Dipper.
Orion is another one of the easiest constellations to locate in the sky. Look for three bright stars forming almost a straight line. These stars represent Orion’s Belt. Keep an eye out for two bright stars in to the north and two slightly to the south of his belt, which represent Orion’s shoulders and feet.
Next time you hop in the hot tub with your loved ones, challenge your kids to see who can find the Big Dipper first, or try to charm someone special as you point out these famous star formations.