Venus and Mars remain steady companions in the early evening sky this month. Venus, the Evening Star, is the brighter of the two, with orange Mars staying just above it. One of the first signs of spring, the constellation Leo, begins poking its nose into the eastern evening sky, and clears the horizon by around nightfall at month’s end.
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In the Sky This Month
February 26: Annular Eclipse
Skywatchers in South America and Africa are in for a treat today: a solar eclipse. Unfortunately, it’s an annular eclipse, so a bright ring of sunshine will outline the intervening Moon. The eclipse is not visible from the United States.
February 27: M46 and M47
The star clusters M46 and M47 are in good view this evening, not far to the left or lower left of Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, which is high in the south at nightfall. Under dark skies, M47 is just visible as a hazy patch of light.
February 28: Moon and Planets
The planet Mars forms the top point of a skinny triangle this evening. It is far above the crescent Moon, and looks like a modestly bright orange star. The much brighter planet Venus, the “evening star,” stands closer to the upper right of the Moon.
March 1: More Moon, Mars, Venus
The planet Venus is low in the west at nightfall, shining as the “evening star.” The crescent Moon stands well to its upper left, while the fainter planet Mars stands beside the Moon, completing a beautiful alignment.
March 2: Close Neighbor
Our closest planetary neighbor is in good view early this month. Venus is the “evening star,” shining from about 32 million miles away. Despite its beauty, it’s not a nice place to visit. Its surface is extremely hot, and it has a dense, toxic atmosphere.
March 3: Coma Berenices
Coma Berenices, Berenice’s Hair, stands well to the lower right of the Big Dipper’s handle a couple of hours after sunset. It is home to a grand gathering of galaxies, the Coma Cluster, which is centered about 350 million light-years away.
March 4: Moon and Aldebaran
The Moon and the bright star Aldebaran play a game of “peek-a-boo” this evening. The Moon will pass directly in front of the star, blocking it from view. The entire event will be visible across most of the United States.