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You have to get up pretty early at this time of year to enjoy the beauty of the pre-dawn sky. If you happen to be up, though, it’s well worth a look. That’s because the eastern sky offers up the same stars that’ll decorate the evening sky come winter — some of the brightest and most beautiful stars and constellations of them all.
It also offers a bonus: Venus, the brilliant “morning star.” It’s low in the east at the first blush of twilight. There’s nothing else even close to its brilliance, so you won’t have any trouble picking it out.
The constellation Orion perches off to its right, with bright orange Betelgeuse even with Venus. Orion’s other major features stretch to the right of Betelgeuse: Orion’s three-star belt, which points up and down as it rises, and blue-white Rigel, the hunter’s brightest star.
The twins of Gemini hunker to the lower left of Venus, with Castor a little above brighter Pollux.
Brilliant Capella stands far above the twins, outshining all the other stars in that region of the sky. And Taurus, the bull, is high above Orion, marked by his bright orange eye, the star Aldebaran, and by the twinkly little Pleiades star cluster at his shoulder.
All of these stars rise four minutes earlier each day. So by the time we reach the start of winter, they’ll be climbing into view not at the end of the night, as they are now, but at its beginning — kicking off some long, cold nights under the stars.
Tomorrow: back in action.
Script by Damond Benningfield