Illustration for article titled Use the moon to spot the winter circle of starsPhoto: Habera (Shutterstock)

Although it sounds like the cozier version of the cold weather Battle of the network starsThe “Winter Circle of Stars” actually takes place in the night sky and not in the fields of Pepperdine University in California. (OK, technically it’s just called “Winter Circle” – or “Winter Hexagon” – but it’s made up of stars.) Here’s what the Winter Circle is and how to see it over the next few nights.

Illustration for article titled Use the moon to spot the winter circle of stars

What is the winter circle?

Basically, it is a collection of the brightest stars that are exhibited in the northern hemisphere in winter (i.e. in the southern hemisphere in summer). According to EarthSky, the winter circle is not a constellation, but a “Asterism, “Or” prominent group of stars that form a pattern so striking that it has its own name. “

As you may have guessed by its other name – the winter hexagon – the winter circle is not a perfect circle. So why the name? “From our locations in the northern hemisphere, these bright stars can be seen before sunrise every late summer and early autumn,” he said Team at EarthSky explained. “And they can be seen every winter in the evening. Hence the name Winter Circle. “

How to find the winter circle

As it turns out, tonight – as well as Monday and Tuesday nights – is the growing gibbous moon will be within the winter circleThis makes it easier to see than usual. It becomes visible in the evening and usually persists until well after midnight.

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Illustration for article titled Use the moon to spot the winter circle of stars

But if it’s too cold to go out the next three nights, you can see the winter circle for the rest of the season – all you have to do is find it using constellations instead of the moon. Here you find out how this works: via EarthSky::

To find the winter hexagon or circle, first find the easily recognizable constellation of Orion. The three belt stars give it away. Then look at the bright bluish star in the lower right. This star is Rigel, the southwest corner of the winter circle and the first of the six stars in the hexagon. Rigel is the brightest star in Orion and the seventh brightest star in the night sky.

Draw a line up through the stars of the Orion Belt to find Aldebaran, the reddish eye in the constellation Taurus the Taurus. Aldebaran is the second star in the hexagon and the brightest star in Taurus. Aldebaran is the fourteenth brightest star in the sky.

Go up counterclockwise to find the next bright star, Capella. Capella, the third star on our journey and the northernmost point of the winter hexagon, is the sixth brightest star in the sky.

In no case do not forget to bundle up!