Watching the Skies: Constellation Orion returns

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s hard to imagine in the middle of summer, but a sign of the upcoming fall and winter seasons will be appearing in the night sky over the next couple of weeks.  

The constellation Orion the Hunter returns to our skies each year in late July or early August. Orion is a very easy constellation to pick out during the winter — it shines bright in the south during the evening. At this time of year, it’s just starting to rise in the east before sunrise.

To find the constellation, look for Orion’s belt in the east before the sun comes up. The belt consists of three stars that appear to be completely linear, and they will be pointing straight up over the horizon. From there, look for the stars that make up Orion the Hunter’s knees, head and sword.

The full moon will arrive early next week. The moon will officially be full at 11:59 a.m. on Aug. 3, but the best time to view it will be the night of Aug. 2. You’ll be able to spot the moon to the east right after sunset and to the west before the sun comes up.

In August, the full moon is called the Sturgeon Moon, the Green Corn Moon and the Grain Moon.

The light of the nearly full moon will dim out the surrounding stars and planets some, but you should still be able to pick out Saturn and Jupiter nearby. Jupiter will be the brightest of the two, and Saturn will be below and to the left of Jupiter. The moon will pass by the two planets on the nights of July 31 through Aug. 3. Look to the southeast after sunset to catch the three bright celestial objects.

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