Tour February’s Sky! | February 1st, 2012

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S&T: Lauren Darby
As soon as the Sun sets, you’ll be drawn to a pair of unmistakably bright beacons that dominate the early-evening scene. Over in the southwest is dazzling Venus — a planet is so bright that you might try locating it even before the Sun slips away for the evening.

Shift your gaze to the upper left until you come to Jupiter, which is also really bright — but no match for Venus. Later in the evening, look for Mars rising in the east and, above it, the stars of Leo.
Orion and his easy-to-spot three-star belt is striding high in the south. At upper left is slightly reddish Betelgeuse and at lower right ir icy-white Rigel.

Betelgeuse is at the center of what stargazers call the Winter hexagon, a broad six-sided pattern tipped by Rigel, Sirius, Procyon, Pollux, Capella, and Aldebaran.

You can spot all these sky sights and more — including a special sky challenge — by downloading February's audio sky tour. It's a 5-megabyte MP3 file that's 5 minutes long.