The constellation Auriga, the Charioteer, is the furthest north of the prominent winter constellations. So, from our area, it rises sooner and higher in the sky. When it crosses the meridian, it is at the zenith.
Auriga is easy to find because of its brightest star, Capella. It's the sixth brightest star in earth's night sky, but in Starry Hill's skies in winter, it is the second brightest. Only Sirius in Canis Major is brighter but it is way south and low in our sky. So to find Capella and Auriga, face north and scan the sky from NE to NW for the brightest star.
Capella is known as the little she-goat. Next to it is a popular little asterism of three stars known as the Kids, meaning young goats.
Running north to south through Auriga is an arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. It is within arms that we find an abundance of stars, clusters and nebulas. Auriga has three popular star clusters: M36, M37 and M38. From a dark site, these are easy targets in binoculars and dazzling in a larger telescope.
Viewing Auriga, the Charioteer
Mid-December to late March
Find Auriga between Perseus and Gemini. Or simply face north and look for a very bright star from horizon to horizon. For more help use the 'Constellations of Winter' link below.
Use the map above to find the main stars of Auriga including the Kids asterism. Try drawing the constellation with stars, lines and labels.
With binoculars many more stars will be visible. The three clusters M36, M37 and M38 are excellent targets and fairly easy to find. See the link below. Take time to explore.
The three clusters M36, M37 and M38 are excellent telescope targets. See the link below.