The Celestial Sphere from Latitude 45° North

0300 Hours Sidereal Time

The sky from 45°N at 0300 hours sidereal time

This page contains a description of the stars, constellations, and deep-sky objects that can be seen in the sky at around 0300 hours sidereal time. It is assumed that the observer is located at approximately 45° latitude north.

To use the sky map, orient it so that the direction you are facing is at the bottom of the map. Zenith, the point directly overhead in the sky, is located at the centre of the map.

Looking North

The asterism of the 'Big Dipper' or 'Plough' is the most familiar part of the larger constellation Ursa Major. At this time, the 'Big Dipper' is very low in the sky and standing on its handle. Using the two stars in its bowl as pointers, it is easy to find the second magnitude star Polaris. This is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor (often known as the 'Little Dipper') and is currently very close to the north celestial pole. Because of this, the entire northern sky appears to pivot around Polaris. The 'Little Dipper' is hanging down from Polaris. Winding around and below Ursa Minor is the constellation Draco.

Rapidly disappearing from view in the northwest are two holdovers from the summer sky, Lyra and Cygnus. Cygnus is often called the 'Northern Cross' and the bright star at the top of the cross is called Deneb. Vega, the brightest star in Lyra, is just disappearing from view.

Perseus is near zenith but the most noticable constellation overhead is the M-shaped Cassiopeia. The bright star just east of Perseus is Capella in the constellation Auriga. Gemini is the next constellation eastward of Auriga. The two bright stars at the bottom of this constellation are named for the brothers from Greek mythology, Castor and Pollux. Finally, just rising in the east is the faint constellation Cancer. Although it contains no bright stars, binoculars can be used to find the open cluster M44, Praesape or the Beehive Cluster.

Looking South

The brightest star in the sky after the Sun is rising in the southeast. This is, of course, Sirius. Because it is the brightest star in Canis Major, it is often called the 'Dog Star'. Another 'dog star' rises at about the same time further to the east. Procyon is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Minor and along with Sirius, is one of the closest stars to the solar system.

Orion is striding westward across the sky with his club held over his head and his shield held out in front of him, as if to ward off Taurus. The bright red star in the shoulder holding aloft the club is Betelgeuse and the bright blue star in the opposite knee is Rigel. Three stars make up the belt of the giant and hanging down from this belt is M42, the Great Orion Nebula. It looks like a star with the naked eye but resolves into a fuzzy nebula with binoculars.

The belt stars of Orion point upward to Aldebaran, the eye of Taurus. The small V-shape of stars next to Aldebaran are the components of the open cluster known as the Hyades. Continuing westward, another open cluster is encountered which is M45, the Pleiades or Seven Sisters.

The southern skies are devoid of bright stars. Tiny, faint Aries is high in the sky with Cetus and Eridanus below. Pisces is further west, with its 'Circlet' located below the 'Great Square' of Pegasus. Andromeda extends off the upper left hand corner of the 'Great Square' of Pegasus and can lay claim to the most distant object visible to the naked eye, M31, the Andromeda Galaxy. This is a spiral galaxy similar to our own but located 2.5 million light years away.

Tiny Delphinus is just setting in the west, as is Aquarius below it.