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Extra resources for 2012 Australasian Sky Guide
Low in the east we have the welcome return of the favourite constellation of the Australian winter sky, Scorpius, the Scorpion. It is easily recognisable, consisting of a line of bright stars, including the bright red star Antares. Scorpius rises as Orion is setting, recalling the ancient Greek story of the Scorpion chasing the giant Orion. The Southern Cross is well placed for observation as it is now high in the south-east. The brightest star of the Cross, Acrux, is the closest to the horizon, while the next brightest, Beta Crucis or Mimosa, is to the left or east.
If we extend an imaginary line through Orion’s belt to the right or east, we reach Sirius , the brightest star in the sky. It is an intrinsically bright star — about 25 times brighter than the Sun — and is also relatively close at a distance of only nine light years. If we extend the imaginary line through Orion’s belt in the opposite direction, towards the left or west, we reach the orange-coloured star Aldebaran. This is giant star with a surface temperature somewhat cooler than the Sun yet intrinsically hundreds of times brighter.
32 2012 AUSTRALASIAN SKY GUIDE December 2011 The evening sky See star map opposite The summer constellation of Orion, the Hunter, is high in the southeast. The three stars in the middle of the constellation represent the belt of Orion. Above and a little further to the right or east of the rightmost star of the belt we find a line of three faint objects that, from a city or suburban location, are best seen through binoculars. These make up the dagger or sword of Orion. The object in the middle is one of the most famous objects in the sky, the Great Nebula in Orion.
2012 Australasian Sky Guide by LOMB