The Moon and the hours of darkness
Stars and constellations
The southern part of the sky is dominated by the bright stars of the constellation Orion. 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.
During January the brightest comet by some margin is 2014 Q2 Lovejoy. Comet Lovejoy is expected to reach peak brightness of +4.5, or perhaps +4.0 by mid-January. That will put it at about the same brightness as the Andromeda Galaxy. From dark locations the comet will be visible as a fuzzy ball of light to the unaided eye and easily visible with binoculars and small telescopes. At the time of writing the comet is showing a narrow, complex tail.
Comet Lovejoy is moving northwards across the sky and passes to the west (the right) of Orion and Taurus. That means the best time to view will be evenings. Expect the moon to make observations difficult in the first and last weeks of the month.