Skywatch: Meet the "Great Bear" this week

Skywatch: Meet the "Great Bear" this week

As we march into the first full week of winter you can look for a famous constellation. It’s called Ursa Major, or the “Great Bear”. Legend has it that Callisto was a beautiful nymph and she and Zeus, the king of the gods, had a son, Arcas. This enraged Zues’ wife Hera, who then turned Callisto into a bear. Year’s later Callisto, still in bear form, encountered Arcas who drew his weapon to kill the bear. Zues saw all of this and threw both into the night sky in order to keep Arcas from killing his mom. Callisto joined the heavens as the “Great Bear”. Look in the north during the evenings to find her. The "Big Dipper" is an asterism that makes up the back half and tail of the bear.

Look for the half-moon on Monday night and early Tuesday. The First Quarter Moon will occur at 4:20 in the morning on Tuesday. Our satellite will brighten each night as we march to the first of two Full Moons in January.

On Friday morning you can find a planetary alignment if you’re out early. Mercury, Jupiter, and Mars will line up in the southeastern sky a little more than an hour before sunrise (7:53 on 12/29). Mercury will hang lowest in the sky near the horizon with Jupiter and Mars above an to the right of the solar system’s innermost planet. As always, this time of year the clouds have to clear out if you want to enjoy the show. Happy hunting!