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In the Sky This Month

Mars slides past two of its planetary siblings in the early morning sky this month. The Red Planet passes Jupiter on the morning of the 20th and Saturn on the 31st. The Moon joins the trio shortly after mid-month. As that plays out in the dawn sky, Regulus, one of the astronomical symbols of spring, climbs higher into the evening sky.

March 29: Arneb

Arneb, the leading light of the constellation Lepus, the hare, is in the southwest as night falls, below brilliant Orion. Arneb is roughly 14 times the mass of the Sun. Such heavy stars burn out quickly, then explode as supernovae.

March 30: Mars and Saturn

The planets Mars and Saturn are forming a tight pair in the early morning sky. They are low in the southeast at first light, to the lower left of brilliant Jupiter. Tomorrow, Mars will stand a little below Saturn.

March 31: Hardy Planet

Cancer, the crab, is high overhead as night falls. One of its stars is orbited by a giant planet that’s so close to the star that its atmosphere is being blasted away into space. The planet is far too faint, though, to see without a telescope.

April 1: Volcanic Exomoon

Lepus, the hare, hops below the feet of Orion, which is in the southwest at nightfall. A planet has been discovered orbiting WASP-49, a star in Lepus. Astronomers have found evidence of a moon orbiting the planet, which would make it the first known “exomoon.”

April 2: Sundogs

Sometimes, when the Sun is low in the sky, you can see three Suns: the real one and two smaller, fainter ones flanking it. The extras are commonly known as sundogs, a name derived from the verb form of dog, which means to follow.

April 3: Venus and the Pleiades

Venus and the Pleiades are sliding past each other. Venus is the “evening star,” high in the west at nightfall. The Pleiades is a tiny dipper-shaped star cluster. It lines up to the right of Venus tonight.

April 4: Moon and Regulus

Regulus, the bright heart of Leo, the lion, shines close to the right or upper right of the Moon as night falls this evening. It will be to the lower right of the Moon as they set, a couple of hours before sunrise.

First QuarterFirst Mar. 2, 1:57 pm

Full MoonFull Mar. 9, 12:48 pm

Last quarterLast Mar. 16, 4:34 am

New MoonNew Mar. 24, 4:28 am

Times are U.S. Central Time.

Perigee March 10

Apogee March 24

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