Amateur Astronomy

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Learning the signposts

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There are a number of constellations and asterisms which can be used during the year to help fix your orientation in the night sky.

1) The Plough or Big Dipper asterism in Ursa Major (Great Bear).

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This circumpolar asterism can assist northern hemisphere observers at almost any time of year.

1a) Arcturus (Alpha Boötes)

1b) Spica (Alpha Virginis)

Follow this curving arc from Alioth and Mizar towards Alkaid. Continue onwards to bright red Arcturus and then the same distance again to find bright blue-white Spica.

2a) Polaris (Alpha Ursæ Minoris)

2b) Tsih (Gamma Cassiopeiæ)

3a) Capella (Alpha Aurigæ)

3b) Algol (Beta Persei)

4a) Castor (Alpha Geminorum)

4b) Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis)

5a) Regulus (Alpha Leonis)

5b) Alphard (Alpha Hydræ)

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