Winter Hexagon

Most prominent in the winter sky is a giant hexagon pattern. Make it your frame of reference for cool autumn mornings and brisk winter evenings! The winter hexagon includes six constellations, and some of the brightest of stars visible at any time of the year from northern latitudes:

  1. Sirius, in Canis Major the Big Dog
    Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, forms the lowest vertex of the hexagon pattern.
  2. Capella, in Auriga the Charioteer
    Capella, the she-goat, is a bright yellow star almost directly overhead throughout the winter. It forms the top vertex of the winter hexagon.

    Proceeding clockwise from Capella:

  3. Aldebaran, in Taurus the Bull
    To the lower right of Capella is Aldebaran, the red eye of Taurus, gleaming out of the night as the bull charges down upon Orion. Look for the Hyades, a V-shaped cluster of stars that forms the bull's head.
  4. Rigel, in Orion the Mighty Hunter
    To the upper right of Sirius is Rigel, a bluish-white star, and the left foot of Orion. Look nearby for Orion's belt and bright Betelgeuse, his reddish right shoulder.
  5. Procyon, in Canis Minor the Little Dog.
    Located above left of Sirius, Canis Minor consists of only two bright stars, and Procyon is by far the brightest.
  6. Pollux and Castor, in Gemini the Twins
    The remaining vertext of the winter hexagon is comprised of the two bright stars of Gemini: Pollux (on the Procyon side) and Castor (on the Capella side).

Star chart created with Voyager II Software for Macintosh, published by Carina Software. This is just a taste of what Voyager can do! For info on Voyager II software, call Carina Software at (510) 355-1266, write them at 12919 Alcosta Blvd Suite #7, San Ramon, CA 94583, or visit Carina Software's home page and check out Voyager II for yourself.

As described in Starstruck Tonight:

The night sky of winter is dominated by a giant hexagon pattern. Start with Aldebaran in Taurus, pass on to Rigel in Orion, and come down to Sirius in Canis Major

Continue upward to Procyon, in the Little Dog.

Trace on to Pollux and Castor, the two stars of Gemini, and past them to the top of the hexagon, bright yellow Capella, lying almost straight overhead, in the constellation Auriga the Charioteer. Auriga looks more like a pentagon than a Chariot, perched on top of the horns of Taurus.

The Winter Hexagon contains an unrivalled collection of stars:

The two bright stars Castor and Pollux together form one vertex of the Winter Hexagon. To the Greeks, Castor and Pollux were the twin sons of Zeus and the mortal woman Leda. HomerÍs Iliad tells how the beauty of their sister Helen "launched a thousand ships" in the Trojan war. With the oath "By Jiminy," sailors revered the Gemini twins as the Protectors of ships. Castor, on the Capella side, is actually six stars in one, ceaselessly revolving around one another in an intricately-choreographed cosmic dance....