Milwaukee Astronomical Society



Winter Sky Tour Home Page

The bitter chill of a clear winter night is compensated by the fire and brilliance of the sky above. No other time of the year offers so many bright stars and deep sky wonders so close together. This is where I started my first ventures into astronomy, 40 years ago, as a child with my Dad's binoculars (which I still use) so these stars hold a special sense of distant nostalgia for me as well.

The winter sky is, of course, also the prime testing ground for all our new Christmas gifts.

The account here is the agenda that I loosely follow in providing a guided tour of the winter skies as visible from 45° North Latitude. This tour is designed for one topic to lead to the next, so it flows nicely and still manages to teach Astronomy under the night sky as we caravan from one constellation to another. Aside from the binoculars and telescopes I usually make a point of also bringing a highly focused flashlight which serves as an effective pointer for tracing out constellations.

View to the South

View to the North

Overview of the Tour

The blue arrows map out the basic flow of the tour.

The Top Attractions

As long as people can run in and out of the cabin to warm up, or if you have an especially hard-core gritty cold-resistant (i.e. native-born Wisconsin) group, the full winter tour is fine. Some nights, though, only the bravest will dash out to see what you have to show - quick quick quick. In that case, these are the best items to hit - the ones that the kids (and the adults) are talking about days later.

 Feature  Naked Eye Binoculars Telescope
 The Great Orion Nebula   ✔   ✔ 
 The Pleiades   ✔   ✔   ✔ 
 The Andromeda Galaxy   ✔   ✔   ✔ 
 γ Andromedae   ✔ 
 δ Cephei   ✔ 
 Algol the Demon Star   ✔ 
 The Double Cluster   ✔   ✔ 
 Mizar & Alcor   ✔ 
 The Beehive   ✔   ✔   ✔ 
Feature Visual Binocs Scope
The Great Orion Nebula  ✔   ✔ 
The Pleiades  ✔   ✔   ✔ 
The Andromeda Galaxy  ✔   ✔   ✔ 
γ Andromedae  ✔ 
δ Cephei  ✔ 
Algol the Demon Star  ✔ 
The Double Cluster  ✔   ✔ 
Mizar & Alcor  ✔ 
The Beehive  ✔   ✔   ✔ 

Back to Stargazing Home Page On to Orion & Taurus


Download This Tour

   Winter Sky Tour in PDF You can download this entire tour in a single PDF document.


Word Logo    Winter Sky Tour in Word You can download this entire tour in a single Word document.


Goddard Space Flight Center Hubble Site The best Hubble web site in my "hubble" opinion

The SEDS Messier Catalog -- a great reference for more information and images of the Messier Catalog deep sky objects.

Views of the Solar System Excellent reference on the solar system, well organized and packed with goodies.


Your questions and comments regarding the Stargazing section are welcome. You can e-mail the author, Randy Culp for inquiries, suggestions, new ideas or just to chat.
Updated 18 July 2023