By a conservative estimate, there are about a million stars visible to the unaided eye. And billions more can be seen through binoculars or a telescope. Most of the stars and constellations were named by the Greeks or Romans and have obscure names, many of them from mythology.


The so-called Zodiac constellations are among these. They begin with Aries (the ram) and end with Pisces (the fishes), according to when our Sun is located in those constellations, and beginning with the vernal (or spring) equinox, which typically occurs about March 21st. Both of these are visible in the evening sky in February. Almost overhead early are Taurus (the bull), whose brightest star is Aldebaran, the "eye" of the bull; that is because the bull's eye is typically red and Aldebaran is noticeably read. Also overhead are Orion, the "mighty hunter," whose brightest stars are Rigel and Betelgeuse. And Canis Major (the big dog), whose brightest star is Sirius (the brightest in our sky, except for our Sun). Sirius is sometimes called the "dog star."


Morning "stars" this month are Venus, Saturn, and just emerging from the Sun's glare, Mars. Jupiter, in Aries, is our only evening "star" at the moment, and rapidly dropping westward. See you in March, when the first day of spring occurs!