How to see Betelgeuse, the Alpha star of the Orion constellation

The star of this month is definitely the Betelgeuse star, the “left shoulder” of the hunter Orion and the summit of the asterism of the Winter Triangle. In this article we will find out how to see Betelgeuse in the night sky…

Betelgeuse is a variable star, that is, its brightness varies over time. In the last month it has been making headlines as we are witnessing a minimum of its brightness, well appreciated even with the naked eye. Someone then speculated on Twitter that this reduction in brightness could be a sign of an imminent supernova explosion.

So here is first of all how to see Betelgeuse, the Alpha star of the Orion constellation.

Features

Betelgeuse is a variable red supergiant. It means that its magnitude (unit of measure of brightness) oscillates over a period of several years. The first to realize this was John Herschel in 1840. It is on average the tenth brightest star in the night sky, whose average magnitude is 0.58. (Source: Wikipedia – Schaaf, p. 177).

How to see Betelgeuse

betelgeuse in orion constellationBeing the tenth brightest star in the night sky, it is easy to spot the red supergiant among the stars of the Orion constellation. Orange in color, Betelgeuse is distinguishable in the upper left of the figure of Orion. Orion itself is the main winter constellation, thanks to its extension and the brightness of its stars which allows its identification even in the city. It is no coincidence that it is often used as a reference for identifying neighboring constellations.

Orion was a hunter that stands out in the sky, whose characterizing elements are: his famous belt, formed by the three stars Alnitak, Alnilam, Mintaka. “Hanging” on his belt is his sword made up of the Orion nebula. Finally his left shoulder with Betelgeuse.

To admire the star with the naked eye, even from the skies of the city it is possible to follow the precautions that make the best view, such as looking for a place with less artificial lighting. And if you would like to observe it with a telescope, we recommend that you wear comfortable and warm clothing on these cold winter evenings, and move to a place without artificial lighting.

When to see Betelgeuse

Betelgeuse is a winter constellation, that is, it is visible from the beginning of December immediately after sunset. At around 9.00 pm it will appear low on the horizon to the east and then rise during the night. As the winter months progress, January and February, at the same time it will be higher in the sky allowing an optimal observation. Orion’s asterism literally dominates the scene in those months. With the arrival of spring and then of summer Orion will rise later and later. During the beautiful seasons, therefore, its observation will be possible only late at night. For example, in August Orion is visible around 3.00 in the morning.

So this is the best time to admire the red supergiant!

You can also easily locate it through smartphone Apps to see the stars, or with maps of the sky.

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