THE BIG SKY
A night sky challenge of the canine variety awaits boaters this March. Moor at a location with open views to your south. As darkness falls you’ll see a bright star hovering low in the sky. It’ll likely twinkle and perhaps flash. This is Sirius, the brightest star in the northern hemisphere.
As your eyes adjust more stars appear below and around Sirius, and it is here where the challenge begins. Sirius is part of a constellation called CanisMajor. That’s Latin for the “Great Dog”. Sirius itself is known as the Dog Star, but can you see the outline of a big dog leaping off the southern horizon in the stars around it?
Here are some pointers. To the right of Sirius is a less bright but very noticeable star. Connect an imaginary line between the two and you’ll have the dog’s front leg and paw. To the lower left of Sirius is a peaked triangle of stars of similar brightness. These form the dog’s hind leg and tail. A run of fainter stars track back to Sirius for the dog’s back, while to the left of Sirius is a triangle of dim stars representing the dog’s head.