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Poor Will's Almanack: January 7 - 13, 2020

winter sky featuring orion
Rob Pettengill
Flickr Creative Commons

The rising of Orion after 9:00 p.m. continues to be the most dramatic event of an Deep Winter evening. The seven sisters, the Pleiades, and the constellation Taurus, precede it.

Due north of Polaris, the Little Dipper hangs in the sky overhead before midnight. North-northeast, the Big Dipper hugs the horizon. Due east, Cancer has just come up. Due south, the gangly formations of Cetus, Fornax and Eridanus wander along the tree line. In the far west, Aquarius pushes Delphinus into the Pacific Ocean.

Past midnight, Orion is fully visible overhead. July’s Leo follows Gemini and Cancer across the sky. Regulus, the brightest star of spring, is just starting to rise along the eastern tree line a few hours before dawn.

Many of these stars are relatively easy landmarks for the turning of the Earth, and with just a few them, the time watcher can match what happens in his or her neighborhood with what happens in deep space. One star or constellation is always near others, leading the horoscoper deeper into time. With a simple star chart, one can hopscotch from one marker to another. Naming them is not important, but owning them – making them your own by adopting their movements – is one key to make your own movements in harmony with so many other guideposts of the planet and beyond.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of Deep Winter. In the meantime, when the night is clear, look for Orion high in the south. If you look up and behind you to your right, you might see the Dig Dipper. Even finding one star could help you feel a little less alone in the universe.

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Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.