At this moment every year, we meet to observe with delight the first signs of spring in the sky, before the earth thaws. The increasing light and heat of the Sun and the re-appearance of spring stars Regulus and Arcturus in the evening sky are heralds of flowering elm trees, blooming willows and alders, redwing blackbirds, and, in the countryside, maple sugaring.
A month ago, at the mid-point between the winter solstice and vernal equinox, the constellation Leo the Lion, with its brightest star, bluish Regulus, rose into the evening sky. Now, closer to the equinox, which arrives on the 20th, we look for a faraway sun – brilliant, orange Arcturus – to rise over the eastern horizon, following the Lion into the sky.
About an hour after sunset, find the Big Dipper standing on its handle atop the northeast skyline.
Leo the Lion strides to the Dipper‘s right, due east. In the course of another hour, the
Dipper‘s arcing handle lifts into the sky. Then, the warm light of
Arcturus rises over the hills, a great star dropped off the end of the arc. Wherever the Big Dipperis in the sky, simply “arc to Arcturus” to be assured that you have located the second brightest star visible in northern skies.
See the brightest star visible in Earth’s skies, crystalline, blue-white
Sirius, far to the right of Arcturus, in the south. Regulus appears high above and to the right of Arcturus, between Arcturus and Sirius.
Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) begins this coming Sunday, the 10th, at 2 a.m. Set clocks ahead one hour. Sunset is at 5:49 Eastern Standard Time (EST) tonight; 6:56 EDT on the 10th; 7:04 EDT on 17th. Sunrise 6:26am EST today; 7:17am EDT on the 10th; 7:06am EDT the 17th. Arcturus rises at 8:11pm EST tonight; 8:47pm EDT on the 10th and 8:19pm EDT on the 17th. Eastern Standard Time resumes on November 3.
Allow for topography when expecting the rising and setting of celestial bodies.
Opportunity to Participate:
Astronomy intensive for all astronomy enthusiasts
April 6 & 7, NEAF – Northeast Astronomy Forum