The brilliant stars of winter reign on February nights, offering some beautiful skyscapes. Orion is in the south at nightfall, with Sirius, the night sky’s brightest star, twinkling fiercely to its lower left. By late in the month, the stars of spring slide into better view. Leo clears the hori- zon by mid-evening, with Virgo behind him. The planet Venus is climbing higher into the evening sky, while slightly fainter Jupiter rules the sky for the rest of the night.
This Week's Stargazing Tips
February 27: Hints of Life
Mars is in view in the early evening sky right now. It is close to the lower right of Venus, the “evening star.” It is quite low in the sky, however, so you may need binoculars to help you pick it out.
February 28: Beta Cassiopeia
A bright star in Cassiopeia is nearing the end of its life, so it is beginning to puff up like a giant balloon. Beta Cassiopeia is in the northwest this evening, at the bottom of a sideways letter W formed by some of the constellation’s brightest stars.
March 1: Adhara
The big dog ambles across the south tonight, led by Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. Adhara, one of the dog’s hind legs, is below Sirius. It’s actually much brighter than Sirius, but looks fainter because it’s much farther away.
March 2: Moon and Jupiter
Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, is putting in a big appearance tonight. It stands close to the upper left of the Moon at nightfall, and looks like a brilliant star.
March 3: Moon and Regulus
The almost-full Moon glides past the heart of Leo, the lion, tonight. Regulus huddles close to the lower left of the Moon at nightfall. The planet Jupiter, which far outshines Regulus, stands well above them.
March 4: Early Summer
Summer is months away, but the season’s best-known star pattern is already peeking into view in the pre-dawn sky. The Summer Triangle, which is marked by the stars Vega, Deneb, and Altair, stands well up in the east at first light.
March 5: Full Moon
The Moon is full today at 12:05 p.m. CDT, when it lines up opposite the Sun in our sky. The full Moon of March is known as the Sap Moon, Worm Moon, or Lenten Moon.
Check last week's tips if you missed a day.