The Winter Circle paints a great big circle of brilliant stars on the dark dome of a winter night.
Favorite Star Patterns
The Big Dipper is easier to find. But, once you find it, you can find the Little Dipper, too – if your sky is dark enough.
During the summer months, the Summer Triangle star formation lights the sky from dusk until dawn. It consists of three bright stars: Vega in the constellation Lyra, Deneb in the constellation Cygnus, and Altair in the constellation Aquila.
The Coathanger star cluster – also known as Brocchi’s cluster – is a tiny pattern of stars on our sky’s dome. It really looks like a coat hanger and is surprisingly easy to make out through binoculars. The trick to viewing the Coathanger is to start from the star Albireo and to star-hop to its spot in the sky.
The Northern Cross isn’t one of the 88 official constellations. Instead, it’s an “asterism” or recognizable pattern of stars. It’s part of the constellation Cygnus the Swan.
The constellation Taurus the Bull is home to the two brightest star clusters, the Hyades and Pleiades. The Hyades represents the Bull’s face and is easy to see in the night sky because it has a distinctive V-shape. The brightest star in the V is Aldebaran, which represents the fiery red eye of Taurus. Aldebaran is not a true cluster member, however. Its distance from Earth is less than the distance to the other Hyades stars.
The constellation Crux – otherwise called the Southern Cross – can be seen from Earth’s Southern Hemisphere and from tropical and subtropical regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
Two things set Sagittarius apart from all other constellations: the winter solstice sun shines in front of it, and it marks the direction to the center of our Milky Way galaxy.
The Great Square of Pegasus consists of four stars of nearly equal brightness that make a large square pattern. It is best seen from September to March.