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 30: Moon and Regulus

Regulus, the brightest star of Leo, the lion, stands to the lower left of the Moon at nightfall. Regulus actually consists of two pairs of stars. Only one member of the quartet is bright enough to see with the unaided eye, however.

March 31: Denebola

The Moon cruises past the heart of the lion tonight. Regulus, the brightest star of Leo, stands above the Moon in early evening. The lion’s body trails to the lower left of Regulus. It ends at the star Denebola, at the tip of the lion’s tail.

April 1: Cor Caroli

Cor Caroli, the brightest star in Canes Venatici, is in the east as darkness falls, not far from the Big Dipper. The star's name means “the heart of Charles.” Edmund Halley, the British astronomer royal, named it in honor of King Charles II.

April 2: Eclipses Through the Ages

The 30th eclipse in a series that began in 1492 takes place early Saturday, with all or part of it visible across the United States. An eclipse series is known as a Saros. This one will consist of 71 eclipses, with the final event in 2754.

April 3: Lunar Eclipse

A total lunar eclipse will decorate the pre-dawn sky tomorrow. Skywatchers in the western half of the United States will see all of the total phase of the eclipse, while those in the east will experience only part of the show.

April 4: Moon and Spica

The just-past-full Moon has a bright companion tonight: Spica, the brightest star of Virgo. It’s quite close to the lower right of the Moon at nightfall, and stays close as they arc low across the southern sky during the night.

April 5: Sirius

Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, slides across the southwest this evening. The star is in the south-southwest as darkness falls and sets by around midnight. It twinkles fiercely as it drops nearer the horizon.

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


©2015 The University of Texas McDonald Observatory