Winter Is Finding Orion’s Belt

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What is winter?  There’s the usual of course – snow, cold & ice; hot tea & hot soup; turning on the gas fire at night.

But one thing that signifies winter to me above everything else is the return of Orion in the night sky.

As much as I love the night sky, I don’t recognize many of the constellations.  To me, they look like a bunch of lines and squiggles of make-believe figures.  But years ago, my favorite boy toy showed me how to find Orion’s Belt in the winter sky.

Orion in the early evening

Orion in the early evening

I took the above picture earlier this week, as I waited for my boy toy to finish making supper for us.  It was a fairly mild night and I stood in the shadows in front of the house, oblivious to neighbor’s driving by as I was trying to figure out what settings to use.  Although this setting shows the stars, they show up as lines instead of twinkles.  In other words, my settings were so long that the stars shifted enough for my camera to record it.

See the belt?

See the belt?

I always find Orion’s Belt because the stars are nearly a perfect line.  I don’t find any other stars to line up so cleanly in the night sky.  Once you see the belt, it’s easy to see the rest of Orion.

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See the arms and legs?

I took several different pictures that night, including the moon.  As I said, I’m not very knowledgeable about the night sky, but I did notice this rather bright star by the moon.  On  photo, it looks like a big old dust speck.

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I heard on the radio that a few hours after I took this, Jupiter passed so close to the moon that they appeared to be touching.  On March 17, they will again appear to be touching and then Jupiter will not be so close to the moon again until the year 2026.

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Cool, eh?

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Oak tree in the backyard after it snowed

Of course, winter is not just seeing Orion’s Belt.  It’s also the pale sunrises that occur late enough for me to photograph before going to work.  The winter sky is so pale – watery blues, pinks & oranges.  Still, it has a beauty of its own, especially after a snowfall.