The stars were bright and beautiful when I went out at 5:30 this morning. On mornings when they are bright I search my memory for the names of stars and constellations. I was reasonably good at identifying them when I was in my late teens, but I've forgotten most of them now.
Orion is always immediately recognizable wherever it is in the sky, as are the Pleiades close by. It's sort of odd that I have a harder time with the Big Dipper; that's because light pollution and trees are always worse in that direction.
Two bright stars really caught my attention this morning. One, as I looked at it, had a tellingly reddish tinge, and I wondered if it was a red giant. Usually I can see the red in Mars on nights that it's visible and identify it by its color and brightness. This time, though, I didn't recognize this particular "star" as Mars, but it was Mars anyway. This I found when I looked up a star chart on my computer afterward.
The other star was Sirius. I had wondered if it was; as the brightest star in the sky, it's very noticeable. At first I thought it might be Venus, but it wasn't bright enough for that and I didn't think it was in the right place. Then I thought perhaps it was Jupiter. Once again, the Internet cleared it up for me later on.
I'll be taking a star map with me next time.