Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

190,728 subscribers and counting ...

Find Orion the Hunter and see the Milky Way


Tonight for December 7, 2015

You can find one of winter’s most famous constellations – Orion the Hunter – plus see the Milky Way tonight. Orion is bright and can be seen from inside smaller cities. For the Milky Way, you will need a dark sky!

Never miss another full moon. Order your 2015 EarthSky Lunar Calendar today!

Throughout December, the constellation Orion rises over the eastern horizon around 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. By late December – or early winter – Orion is seen at nightfall or early evening. Because Orion is out for about 12 hours a night in December and January, we tend to associate Orion with the winter season. Many of you know this constellation from late summer, though, when it rises in the east before dawn.

Orion ascending over Normandy, France as seen by EarthSky Facebook friend Mohamed Laaifat. Thank you, Mohamed. Click here to expand image.

The three stars of Orion’s belt jut pretty much straight up from the horizon at early evening, with the bright ruddy star Betelgeuse shining to the left of Orion’s belt and the bright blue-white star Rigel to the right of the Belt.

If you're up early, don't forget to view the moon and Venus!

If you’re up early, don’t forget to view the moon and Venus!

Because so many people are familiar with Orion, this constellation is a great jumping off spot for finding the pathway of stars known as the Milky Way. When we look at this band of luminescence, we’re viewing the galactic disk edgewise – the combined glow of millions of stars. Given a dark sky, you can see this archway of stars running by Betelgeuse.

Easily locate stars and constellations during any day and time with EarthSky’s Planisphere.

The Milky Way arcs from east to west this evening, passing through the constellation Cassiopeia the Queen to the north and the Northern Cross in the west. For many people, Orion is the easiest constellation to find, so use it to see the Milky Way’s glimmering roadway of stars tonight!

Betelgeuse will explode someday

Rigel: Orion’s brightest star

Cassiopeia high up in northern sky on December evenings

Northern Cross stands upright on winter evenings