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Last Week's Stargazing Tips

March 22: Moon and Aldebaran

Aldebaran, the bright eye of the bull, stands just below the Moon at nightfall, and leads the Moon down the sky later on. Aldebaran is just 65 light-years away. It is a bloated star near the end of its life.

March 21: Coma Berenices

The constellation Coma Berenices, which represents the hair of a legendary queen, is well up in the east by mid-evening. It is about half way between the bright stars Arcturus and Regulus, which highlight the eastern sky.

March 20: Winter Circle

Spring arrives in the northern hemisphere today, but the most prominent stars of winter remain in good view. They form a big loop known as the Winter Circle, which is in the southwestern quadrant of the sky this evening.

March 19: Vernal Equinox

The Sun will cross the celestial equator tomorrow. The crossing marks the vernal equinox, which is the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere. It also marks the starting point for measuring the length of the year.

March 18: Moon and Companions

The vanishingly thin crescent Moon has a couple of companions after sunset this evening, the planets Venus and Mercury. Venus is the “evening star,” to the right of the Moon. Much-fainter Mercury is about the same distance to the upper right of Venus.

March 17: Owl Nebula

The Owl Nebula stares out from the Big Dipper. It is a set of concentric bubbles of gas blown into space by a dying star. It’s round, and seen through a telescope or in photographs, it has two dark patches that look like an owl’s eyes.

March 16: New Moon

The Moon will be “new” early tomorrow as it crosses the line between Earth and the Sun. It is lost from sight in the Sun’s glare, but should return to view on Sunday, as a thin crescent quite low in the west at sunset.