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 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.

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.

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


©2015 The University of Texas McDonald Observatory