Where can I find Capella in the night sky?

Answered by Ricardo McCardle

One of the most recognizable and easily spotted constellations in the night sky is the Big Dipper, which is part of the larger constellation Ursa Major, also known as the Great Bear. The Big Dipper is made up of seven bright stars that form the shape of a ladle or dipper, with four stars making up the bowl and three stars forming the handle.

To locate Capella, we can use two stars from the bowl of the Big Dipper. Imagine a line connecting the two stars at the far end of the bowl opposite the handle. This line, if extended further, will lead you to the bright star Capella.

Capella is located in the constellation Auriga, which is often depicted as a charioteer. Auriga is not as well-known or prominent as some other constellations, but it is still fairly easy to find once you’ve located the Big Dipper.

Once you’ve identified the two stars at the end of the Big Dipper’s bowl, follow the line they create towards the horizon. After extending the line for a significant distance, you should come across a bright golden star. This is Capella, the brightest star in the constellation Auriga.

Capella is a remarkable star, with a distinct golden hue that sets it apart from many other stars in the night sky. Its name is derived from the Latin word for “little she-goat,” as it is sometimes associated with a celestial goat.

The constellation Auriga itself is shaped like a pentagon, with Capella marking one of the corners. It is often depicted as a charioteer holding a goat in one arm, but the shape can be somewhat challenging to visualize without the aid of star charts or illustrations.

If you are observing the night sky during the autumn or winter months, Capella will be visible in the northeastern part of the sky. Its position will vary slightly depending on your location and the time of night, but it can usually be found relatively high above the horizon in the northern hemisphere.

As with any stargazing activity, it is important to find a dark location away from city lights to improve your visibility of the stars. This will allow you to fully appreciate the beauty and wonder of Capella and the surrounding constellations.

So, the next time you find yourself outside on an autumn or winter evening, take a moment to locate the Big Dipper, and use its bowl stars to guide you to the bright golden star Capella in the constellation Auriga. It’s a great way to explore the night sky and connect with the wonders of the universe.