Sirius, The Dog Star
Sirius is the brightest star in the sky. This star is located in the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog. The “Dog Star” is the companion of Orion, the Hunter. Line up the three belt stars of Orion and head southeastward. You will pass just above Sirius.
This brilliant star is pretty close to earth. Its distance is just 8.6 light years away. Sirius is a massive star. The power output is 23 times that of the sun, yet it’s only about the size of earth.
Sirius appears bluish -white in color because of the extremely high temperatures. Sirius is 1.7 times hotter than the sun. Looking through binoculars its blue brilliance is dazzling.
The open cluster M41 lies just south of Sirius. On a clear night, M41 is visible to the naked eye as a fuzzy single star. This cluster contains about 50 stars within the area of a full moon. It is one of the most spectacular clusters in the sky to view with the help of a telescope.
Even though Sirius is the brightest star in the sky, it is not the brightest object in the night sky for early March 2002. Jupiter is shining in the south at a brilliant -2.4. A spring planet show is beginning to lineup during March. A spectacular display awaits stargazers when five planets in the western sky span only 36 degrees by early May. I’ll keep you posted.