Stargazing Information

The warmer nights of spring bring a panoply of new stars and constellations. Leo is in good view by nightfall, climbing straight up from the eastern horizon, led by his bright “heart,” Regulus. Virgo follows a couple of hours later; the maiden’s brightest star, Spica, looks like a near twin to Regulus. The planet Venus continues its climb into the western sky as the Evening Star, while Mars, which is near Venus as the month begins, drops ever lower into the twilight.

This Week's Stargazing Tips

March 6: Berenice’s Hair

Queen Berenice spreads her tresses across the eastern sky this evening. They form a tight spray of faint stars known as Coma Berenices. The constellation is low in the east at nightfall, far to the left of the Moon.

March 7: Arcturus

Arcturus, the brightest star of Bootes, the herdsman, stands far to the left of the Moon as they climb skyward in mid-evening. It is one of the brightest stars in the entire night sky, so you shouldn’t have any trouble spotting it.

March 8: Moon and Spica

Spica, the leading light of the constellation Virgo, is easy to spot tonight because it is quite close to the right or upper right of the Moon as they rise in late evening.

March 8: On the Frontier

Today, the North Star is Polaris. Over thousands of years, though, Earth’s axis wobbles, so it points at different stars. Five millennia ago, it pointed at Thuban in Draco, the dragon, so it was the North Star.

March 9: Beehive Cluster

The Beehive, a star cluster in the constellation Cancer, stands high overhead in late evening. The cluster is about 500 light-years from Earth. To the unaided eye it looks like a faint smudge of light, but binoculars reveal dozens of stars.

March 10: Moon and Saturn

Look for Saturn quite close to the lower right of the Moon at first light tomorrow. The giant planet looks like a bright golden star.

March 11: Moon, Saturn, and Antares

A bright triangle adorns the early morning sky tomorrow: the Moon, the planet Saturn, and the star Antares. Saturn is to the right or upper right of the Moon at first light, with fainter Antares about the same distance to the lower right of the Moon.

Check last week's tips if you missed a day.


©2015 The University of Texas McDonald Observatory