Stars and constellations
This striking star pattern lies on the celestial equator and is visible from all inhabited places on Earth. Orion in mythology was a great hunter and it doesn't take much imagination to visualise a human figure holding a shield (or a bow). Big broad, shoulders but a few faint stars marking the head (showing that he is more brawn and not much brain, according to Eva Hans, formerly of South Tyneside College Planetarium!)
The brightest stars in the constellation are Betelgeuse (with a definite orange/red hue) marking the right shoulder and Rigel (white/blue colour) marking a knee. In star atlases Betelgeuse is labelled "alpha" and Rigel is "beta". However, Rigel is usually the brighter of the two, with Betelgeuse occasionally fluctuating enough to surpass it in brilliance. Betelgeuse is a big star near the end of it's life and good candidate for becoming one our galaxy's next supernovae.
The moon and hours of darkness
The rotation period of Jupiter is just under 10 hours so the long winter nights in the UK make it possible to watch the entire planet rotate between dusk and dawn.
Quadrantid Meteor Shower
Comet 2013 R1 Lovejoy
Comet Lovejoy peaked in brightness (mag +4.5) in early December and was a naked eye object from dark observing sites. The comet continued to approach the Sun during December and reached perihelion on the 22nd (0.8AU from the Sun).
Comet Lovejoy is best seen in the hours before sunrise in the UK. It remains bright enough to be seen with binoculars and small telescopes but is now fading. Telescopes with apertures of 4 inches or more will show the tail easily. Images of the comet taken in mid-December showed a tail stretching across 20 degrees of the sky!