It’s not easy to find the asterism containing some of the brightest stars in the sky, but this week the moon is acting as a guide
Back in the summer, we looked out for the summer triangle. Now it is time to locate the winter hexagon. This week the moon helps as, on the nights of 14-16 February, it travels through the body of this large star pattern. Like its summer counterpart, the winter hexagon is not a recognised constellation but rather it is an asterism – a pattern of bright stars from other constellations. Begin the search on 13 February, when the moon is just outside the circle, near Aldebaran, the red giant star that marks the eye of Taurus. Three nights later, the moon will be approaching Pollux, the bright yellow star in Gemini, on the other side of the circle. To trace the circle’s circumference, start from Aldebaran, and look downwards to Rigel, the brilliant blue star in Orion; then across to Sirius in Canis Major, the brightest star in the sky. Turn diagonally upwards to locate Procyon in Canis Minor, and then almost vertically upwards to Pollux in Gemini. It is a short hop to Castor, also in Gemini; and then over to yellow-tinged Capella in Auriga, which represents the top of the circle. From there, look back down to the starting point of Aldebaran.
Starwatch: follow the moon to find the winter hexagon