Happy New Year!

January is the best time of year to begin our celestial journey. The brightest stars appear in the winter months, including one of the most recognizable constellations.

High in the sky is Orion (the mighty hunter), marked by the “belt” and “sword.” The “ends” of the belt feature the bright stars Rigel and Betelgeuse.

Orion has two dogs on leashes, Canis Major and Canis Minor. Canis Major (the big dog) features the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius (the dog star). Canis Minor (the little dog) boasts Procyon.

Overhead and in close proximity is Taurus (the bull), Gemini (the twins) and Cancer (the crab). We’ll cover these last two next month.

High in the west, after sunset, is Venus. Venus will be so bright it will actually cast a shadow. Mars (in Aquarius) is still visible, too, gradually dimming.

This month's morning “stars” feature bright Jupiter and dimmer Saturn. Planet Earth is closest to the sun on Jan. 4, which is called “perihelion.”

We have one notable meteor shower, the Quadrantids, pre-dawn on Jan. 4.

We’ll cross paths again in February.