Astronomy Minute: January 2021

By Russ Hanson

Great Conjunction Update:
Some days you eat the bear … and some days (weeks!) the bear eats you. The 10, or so, straight days of cloudy skies in the early evening was a bit much. Mother Nature can be so cruel!

Orion: Our old friend Orion is now making his way up over the eastern horizon. That means it is definitely winter. He’ll be with us the entire season, moving a little farther westward every evening. The row of three stars in his belt make him easy to spot. Below the belt and to the right is the bright blue-white star Rigel, and above the belt and to the left is the red-orange star Betelgeuse. Obviously, Betelgeuse has not exploded in a supernova – yet. Apparently, it ejected a huge cloud of dust which caused it to dim considerably. Was that a precursor to supernova? Maybe, maybe not. Orion is a tremendous starting point for star hopping. Stay tuned …