Being an astronomy buff who has spent hours outside with my telescope and camera to take astropics, I'm quite friendly with the sky in the northern
As of this morning at about 6:15 AM, looking towards the east, you would see Mars, looking very bright and orange in color, but not "twinkling" (if
the light is twinkling, it's star, if it's not, and appears stationary, it's a planet).
Looking towards the SE, is the constellation Bootes, and in it is a bright, yellowish/orange star called Acturus, but it would be twinkling a lot.
Last night at about 9:30 PM, you would have seen a very bright orange looking star, in the constellation Orion, as mentioned by others in this thread,
that is Betelgeuse. Interesting trivia: The star Rigel is also in that constellation and appears as a bright blue/white star. Both of these stars have
the same apparent magnitude of brightness, but Rigel is further away than Betelgeuse, at 1,500 ly away, where as Betelgeuse is only about 600 ly away.
Betelgeuse is a red giant, about 300 times bigger than our sun.
The planets in our sky such as Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are very easy to see with the naked eye. Jupiter will appear as a very bright star that
doesn't twinkle. Look at it with just binoculars and you'll actually see some of the banding barely, but you will see what looks like 4 faint stars
near it, and those are actually it's 4 biggest moons.
Saturn will not be quite as bright as Jupiter, and will appear to have a slight yellowish tinge to it. Even a very small telescope pointed at it, and
you'll see it's rings. Awesome looking!
Venus, appears always close to the horizon early in the morning or first thing in the evening. Binoculars will let you see it's phases just like the
Mars is the tricky one, because it's quite small. However, I've actually seen it's white polar caps with a small 4 inch reflector telescope.
The iPhone app that was mentioned, is pretty cool. I was with a friend, and his son was looking up at the night sky, and asked what that bright star
was. I told him it was Jupiter, because I know the sky so well. His father held up his iPhone at it, and said "Yep. That's what it is.", I looked over
and saw the app was was like, oh wow, how cool!
edit on 27-1-2012 by eriktheawful because: added something I forgot.