February 20: Alnilam
The star at the center of Orion’s Belt, a compact line of three bright stars that rolls high across the south on winter evenings, is Alnilam. It is the brightest of the belt stars even though it’s hundreds of light-years farther than the other two.
February 21: Canopus
Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, arcs across the south this evening. If you live in the far southern U.S., the second-brightest star peeks into view as well. Canopus is due south around 9 p.m., just a few degrees above the horizon.
February 22: Moon and Spica
Spica rises to the right of the Moon in late evening. It is the brightest star of Virgo. It actually consists of two stars that are far larger and brighter than the Sun. The more massive of the two is one of the closest stars likely to explode as a supernova.
February 23: Alphard
Alphard, the brightest star of the constellation Hydra, the water snake, stands low in the east-southeast as the sky gets good and dark. It is far to the lower left of Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky.
February 24: Hydra
The long constellation Hydra, the water snake, is beginning its annual crawl across the southern evening sky. As night falls, its head is in the east-southeast, about a third of the way up the sky. The head is outlined by a pentagon of meek stars.
February 25: Moon and Antares
Antares, the orange heart of the scorpion, is below the Moon at first light tomorrow, far to the right of the bright planet Jupiter. It’s a ticking time bomb that could explode as a supernova any time during the next million years or so.
February 26: Moon and Jupiter
The planet Jupiter huddles below the Moon at first light tomorrow. It looks like a brilliant star. But it’s really the solar system’s largest planet — a ball of gas about 11 times the diameter of Earth.