Watching the Skies: Several constellations to see in December

Watching The Skies

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The last full moon of fall was visible early Monday morning. As we head into December and winter, there are several constellations you’ll be able to try to spot.

Orion the Hunter is one of the easiest constellations to find, and we’ll have good viewing through the entire month. The belt of Orion is comprised of three linear stars. If you can locate the line of stars, you’ve found Orion.

Look east during the evening to find the belt — it will be pointing straight up. If you are in a dark enough spot, you should be able to spot the Milky Way behind the constellation.

Cassiopeia is another constellation that’s visible through the month. This constellation is made up of five stars, which make the shape of an “M” or a “W.”

As the light fades away during the evening, Cassiopeia will look like a “W” in the northeast. A few hours later, you’ll be able to spot it in an “M” shape in the northeast. Cassiopeia will be above Polaris, the North Star, during the mid-evening hours. Just like Orion, you’ll be able to see the Milky Way behind it if you’re in a dark enough location.

Finally, look out for Leo the Lion this month. This constellation doesn’t have quite as distinct of a shape as Orion or Cassiopeia, so it may be a little more difficult to spot.

The moon will help us in spotting Leo this week. On Saturday and Sunday, the moon will be right in front of the constellation. Locate the moon in the east during the mid- or late evening and find the brightest star nearby. This will be a star named Regulus. Regulus is part of the constellation Leo the Lion, so once you’ve found it, you’ll have found the constellation.

The moon paired up with Mars in the night sky last week. Eric Schaefer was able to capture this picture of the two shining overhead in Lake Odessa.

The moon paired up with mars in the late-November night sky in Lake Odesssa. (Courtesy: Eric Schaefer)

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