AS I FEARED, after looking forward to it for months and months we missed seeing Comet Wirtanen drifting between the Pleiades and Hyades star clusters last weekend, writes STUART ATKINSON. After a week of clear nights, the evil winter weather returned with a vengeance, and on the one weekend we needed the sky to be clear Storm Deirdre rolled in, covering the comet and all the stars with porridge-thick cloud. Such a shame, but it happens again and again.

If the rain stops, the gales die down and we do get some clear nights in the coming week. Look to the east mid-evening and you'll see the stars of Orion shining above that horizon. With his distinctive belt of three blue-white stars tied around his waist, Orion is very hard to miss. Look to the upper left of the belt and you'll see a bright orange star - this is Betelgeuse, a giant star that is so huge it is more 650 the diameter of our own Sun. If it was put in the Sun's place in the centre of our solar system, Betelgeuse would eat up all the planets inside the orbit of Jupiter - including our own Earth!

Once Orion has fully cleared the horizon you can use his belt to find the brightest star in the sky. Sirius lies to the lower left of Orion, and clears the horizon around 9.30pm. It is a gloriously glinting blue-white gem of a star, which flashes and sparkles furiously as it follows Orion across the sky during the night.

Early riser? Insomniac? Make sure you look for the planet Venus blazing in the south east before sunrise. It won't look this bright again for quite a while.