The Celestial Sphere from Latitude 45° North

0500 Hours Sidereal Time

The sky from 45°N at 0500 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 0500 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 the 'Plough', part of the larger constellation Ursa Major, is standing upright on its handle in the northeast. The two stars at the end of the bowl of the 'Big Dipper' point westward toward Polaris, the brightest star in Ursa Minor. Polaris is so-named because it is currently very close to the north celestial pole. Snaking between Ursa Major and Ursa Minor is Draco. The 'lozenge' of stars that outline the dragon's head are very near to the horizon.

Cygnus has largely disappeared for the night with only its brightest star Deneb still visible in the northwest. Farther around to the west, Pegasus is racing to set, dragging Andromeda behind. The constellation Andromeda is connected to one corner of the 'Great Square' of Pegasus and although it does not contain any particularly bright stars, it does have M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, the most distant object visible to the naked eye. Below Andromeda is her mother Cassiopeia, a distinctive M-shaped constellation, and even further, her father Cepheus. Following Andromeda across the sky is Perseus, another character in the Greek myth which gave these constellations their names.

The bright yellow star high overhead is Capella in Auriga. In the east, Leo, with Regulus at its heart, is rising. The head of Leo is called the 'Sickle' and it looks like a backwards question mark.

Looking South

With the exception of Leo, the eastern sky is devoid of bright constellations. Just beyond Leo is the zodiacal constellation Cancer. Although faint, it does contain an interesting star cluster, M44, Praesape or the Beehive Cluster. Very high in the sky is Gemini, a constellation with two bright stars named Castor and Pollux after two heroic brothers of Greek myth.

The brilliant constellations of winter are on full display at this time. Orion is due south, holding his club high over his head and his shield out in front of him. The red star marking the giant's shoulder is called Betelgeuse whilst the coldly-shining bluish star in his knee is Rigel. Three bright stars mark the belt the Orion wears and hanging from this belt are several starlike objects. A telescope shows that these objects are not stars at all but nebula. The largest is M42, the Great Orion Nebula.

The brightest star in the sky after the Sun is the 'Dog Star' Sirius of Canis Major. This hunting hound faithfully follows his master Orion across the sky every night. Above Sirius is another bright star which is also a 'dog star'. Called Procyon, it is the brightest star of Orion's smaller hunting dog Canis Minor. It is possible to draw an arc from Sirius through the belt of Orion which connects to a bright star just west of Orion's shield. This is Aldebaran, the eye of Taurus. The small V-shape of stars next to Aldebaran is actually an open cluster called the Hyades. If the arc is allowed to continue past Aldebaran, it will finally intersect M45, the Pleiades. This is another open cluster, although much farther away than the Hyades.

After the splendor of the south and southeast, the southwestern sky is a bit of a disappointment. The river Eridanus flows toward the southern hemisphere, providing a place for Cetus the whale to swim. Preparing to set with Pegasus in the west is Pisces