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In the Sky This Month

The warmer nights of spring bring a panoply of new stars and constellations to enjoy. Leo is in good view at nightfall, climbing straight up from the eastern horizon, led by his bright “heart,” the star Regulus. Virgo follows a couple of hours later. Boötes, the herdsman, is to the maiden’s left, marked by yellow-orange Arcturus, one of the brightest stars in the night sky.

March 7: Denebola

Denebola, the star that marks the lion’s tail, is bigger, brighter, and much younger than the Sun. It perches low in the east as darkness falls and climbs high across the sky during the night. It will rise a little earlier each evening as we head into spring.

March 8: Moon and Saturn

Saturn is close to the Moon at dawn tomorrow. The giant planet looks like a star to the left of the Moon. The planets Jupiter, which is much brighter than Saturn, and Mercury stand to the lower left.

March 9: Moon and Planets

Three planets congregate near the Moon in the dawn twilight tomorrow. The brightest is Jupiter, to the upper left of the Moon. Next-brightest is Mercury, to the left of the Moon. And the faintest planet is Saturn, to the upper right of the Moon.

March 10: Mars and Aldebaran

A pair of glowing orange “eyes” stares down from the western sky this evening: the planet Mars and the star Aldebaran, which marks the eye of Taurus, the bull. They are high in the sky at nightfall, with Mars to the right of slightly brighter Aldebaran.

March 11: Boötes

One of the oldest constellations soars high across the sky on March nights. Boötes the herdsman rises in the east and northeast by 9 or 10 p.m. Its stars form an outline that resembles an ice cream cone. The brightest star, Arcturus, is at the bottom of the cone.

March 12: Arcturus

One of the stars whose size has been measured directly is Arcturus, in Boötes the herdsman. It climbs into view in the east by 9 or 10 p.m. It’s one of the brightest stars in the night sky. Careful measurements show that it’s about 25 times the diameter of the Sun.

March 13: M48

The star cluster Messier 48 is halfway up the sky in the south-southeast as night falls, well below the bright star Procyon. Under dark skies, it’s visible to the unaided eye as a small, hazy patch of light, and it’s an easy target for binoculars.

Last quarterLast Mar. 5, 7:30 pm

New MoonNew Mar. 13, 4:21 am

First QuarterFirst Mar. 21, 8:40 am

Full MoonFull Mar. 28, 1:48 pm

Times are U.S. Central Time.

Perigee March 1, 30

Apogee March 18

The full Moon of March is known as the Sap Moon, Worm Moon, or Lenten Moon.