This evening the 16.8-day old waning gibbous Moon rises within about 7 degrees from the open star cluster, the Pleiades, marking the shoulder of Taurus the Bull. Off to the left, or toward the north is the pentagon-shaped star of Auriga the Charioteer.
The alpha, or brightest star in Auriga is Capella which from Latin means something like ‘female-goat’. The three nearby stars to Capella, Almaaz, Hoedus I, and Hoedus II, are called the ‘kids’ as these are the babies from their mother goat Capella. Capella at a distance of 42 light years is the 6th brightest night time star, and Capella is actually a double pair of stars.
Within the pentagon-shape of Auriga lie two open star clusters, M-36 and M-38. Both are about 7th magnitude in apparent brightness and are within 2-3 degrees of each other meaning that both are visible within the field of view of binoculars or with a telescope and a low power wide-field eyepiece.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.