February 21st, 2017, 9:00 p.m. local time
While out late in my driveway, I could see the constellation Orion high in the Southwest sky. What an imposing and wonderful sight! People young and old(er) are amazed whenever I point it out. And while I would love to take credit for this incredible cosmological discovery, Orion has been around for a rather long time, and it’s a shame most people will never pause to look up at it.
Given their framing in my sky this night, it occurred to me that Orion’s Belt, those magnificent three stars in the middle, offer the perfect gauge to find two other stars of neighboring constellations. Although forming not quite a straight line through the belt, the stars Sirius and Aldebaran are on opposite and effectively equidistant sides. Sirius, the eye of Canis Major and brightest star in the sky, is easy to find, though for me in the U.S.A. it is always somewhat low in the South sky.
On the opposite side from Sirius is Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus the Bull. Aldebaran is the faintest of the five stars here in question, and there are no obvious markers (or asterisms) in its immediate vicinity (Sirius has no obvious patterns either, but it is so bright you cannot miss it).
Putting it all together makes for the cool ancient story of Canis Major chasing after Orion the Hunter while he attacks Taurus the Bull. They are a fantastic sight on these Winter evenings, guaranteed to be better than anything on TV tonight.