Astronomy is an outdoor nature hobby. For an easy constellation guide to the evening sky, use the map in the center of Sky & Telescope magazine.
The Moon, just a day before full, occults Aldebaran Monday night for nearly everyone in North America. And watch for the Geminid meteor shower!
See a full Moon on Friday and, for most of the Americas, catch a very deep penumbral eclipse of the Moon that happens around sunset or in early evening.
The biggest well-known star pattern is the Winter Hexagon, marked by the stars Sirius, Procyon, Pollux, Castor, Beta Aurigae, Capella, Aldebaran, and Rigel.
After dinnertime at this time of year, five carnivore constellations are rising upright in a ragged row. Orion stands highest in early evening.
On Friday the waxing gibbous Moon shines below Castor and Pollux. On Tuesday the just-past-full Moon shines with Jupiter after they both rise at end of twilight.
After dinnertime this time of year, four carnivore constellations stand in a row from the northeast to south: Ursa Major, Leo, Hydra, and Canis Major.
The first-quarter Moon on Friday is high in the south at sunset. After dark it balances on the dim head of Cetus. Spot Pleiades to its upper left.
See all five naked-eye planets at dawn, though Mercury is getting low. On Saturday morning, the crescent Moon, Venus, and Mercury form a triangle low in the southeast.
Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) remains visible very high in the southeast before the first light of dawn. For more to see, look to Orion in prime view.
On Saturday, the waning gibbous Moon and Regulus rise around 8 p.m. They'll part ways through the night as the Moon moves east along its orbit.
The Moon shines in dim Pisces upper left of the Great Square of Pegasus. Does the half-lit Moon look just a trace bigger than usual? It's about at perigee.
After dinnertime this week, the Winter Triangle glitters in the southeast. Sirius is its lowest and brightest star, Betelgeuse above, and to their left Procyon.
See all five planets at dawn! The nearly-full Moon shines in Gemini Friday evening — with Castor and Pollux to its left and Procyon to its lower right.
After dark the Great Square of Pegasus is sinking down in the west, to the right of Venus and Mars. The Big Dipper is creeping up in the north-northeast.
The last-quarter Moon rises around 1 a.m. Sunday night, in company with Mars. By the dawn of Monday the 1st they're high in the south.
The waxing gibbous Moon shines below the Pleiades and right of Aldebaran Saturday evening - watch the Moon's dark limb occult a star later that night.
Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) is fading but still within view. A special treat on January 9th: Venus and Saturn just half a degree from each other.
Is your sky dark enough to see the Coma Berenices star cluster naked-eye? Spot Jupiter in the west after twilight this week and the cluster just above.
Mercury is having a poor apparition low in evening twilight this month. But it's bright enough (magnitude –0.2 this evening) that you can pick it up anyway if the air is good and clear.
The Moon shines over Mars, Saturn, and Antares at dusk. And after Saturday's sunset, use binoculars to look for Venus — with fainter Mercury a bit above.
Starry Scorpius is sometimes called "the Orion of Summer" for its brightness and its prominent red supergiant (Antares in the case of Scorpius, Betelgeuse for Orion). Catch Scorpius due south just after dark now. It's full of deep-sky objects for binoculars or a telescope
Starry Scorpius is sometimes called "the Orion of Summer" for its brightness, its blue-giant stars, and its 1st-magnitude red supergiant (Antares).
The Sagittarius Teapot is in the south after darkness is complete.
As summer goes on, Scorpius shifts westward from its high southern stance just after dark; Sagittarius moves in from the east. Prime time for Messier objects!