You are here

Last Week's Stargazing Tips

March 27: Growth Spurt

M87, a giant elliptical galaxy that looks like a fuzzy rugby ball, with no spiral arms or other major features, perches high in the east at nightfall. The galaxy is visible through small telescopes.

March 26: M82

M82, one of the most vigorous galaxies around, is in Ursa Major, the big bear. It stands to the upper left of the Big Dipper as night falls, and is visible through a small telescope. It is giving birth to far more stars than our galaxy, the Milky Way.

March 25: Cor Caroli

Cor Caroli, the brightest star of Canes Venatici, the hunting dogs, is in the east-northeast at nightfall. It is the first meagerly bright star to the right of the tip of the Big Dipper’s handle.

March 24: Moving Day

Venus is losing its identity. After tonight, it will no longer be the “evening star.” Instead, it will be the “morning star,” as it crosses the line between Earth and the Sun. This crossing is known as inferior conjunction, and it happens every 584 days.

March 23: The Argo

Argo, the ship of Jason and the Argonauts, sails across the south tonight. It originally was a single constellation, but astronomers broke it into four smaller ones: Carina, the keel; Vela, the sail; Puppis, the poop deck; and Pyxis, the compass.

March 22: Winter Circle

Spring has already sprung, but a great pattern of stars named for winter still dominates the western evening sky. The Winter Circle includes some of the most prominent stars of all, including Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky.

March 21: Milky Way Clouds

The stars of the Milky Way intertwine with clouds of gas and dust that can span many light-years. Some of them are bright and colorful; others, dark and quiet. The dark clouds are giving birth to new stars. They are dark because their gas is cold.