Orion is by far the quintessential constellation seen in the winter night sky, not only from the Northern hemisphere but from all corners of the world. However, it is during the winter when the mythological hunter reigns supreme among the constellations.
The most prominent northern winter constellations are Auriga, Canis Major, Canis Minor, Carina, Eridanus, Gemini, Monoceros, Orion and Taurus. Southern winter constellations are the same as northern summer constellations. There are two major asterisms dominating the winter night sky: the Winter Triangle and the Winter Hexagon.
For instance, Andromeda, a prominent autumn constellation, can be seen high overhead on summer evenings around midnight. Orion, which dominates the winter sky in the evening, can also be seen in the late summer, when it rises just before dawn. The list of seasonal constellations is provided below.
When is the best time to see winter constellations?
Winter constellations are the patterns best observed in the night sky from late December to late March in the northern hemisphere, and from late June to late September in the southern hemisphere.
The actual difference is that in the northern hemisphere, more bright stars are visible in the winter sky, which also accounts for more star groups or constellations. Identifying the constellations is one of the most fun elements of exploring the night skies from our backyards.
What constellations are not visible in the northern hemisphere?
The northern constellations Cassiopeia and Ursa Major, for instance, are easy to see for observers in the northern hemisphere, but invisible to those living south of latitudes 20°S and 30°S respectively. Similarly, the southern constellations Apus, Chamaeleon, Mensa and Octans are not visible north of equatorial latitudes, .
Also known as the Great Hunter, Orion is the most visible and distinguishable constellation in the winter night sky. It is recognizable by three bright stars – Mintaka, Alnilam and Alnitak – which form a belt-like pattern, known as Orion’s Belt.
Is Taurus a winter constellation?
Found to the west of Orion, Taurus is one of the main star patterns traditionally considered as a winter constellation. Indeed, the Taurus constellation is part of the Winter Hexagon, one of the two major asterisms dominating the winter night sky. The best tip to find Taurus in the winter night sky is to follow the line formed by Orion’s Belt.