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 23: Runaways
The Orion Nebula, a stellar nursery, hangs below the hunter’s belt at nightfall. A binary star known as Iota Orionis is near the nebula. An encounter with another binary may have kicked one star from each system out into space, with the remaining stars forming a new binary.
March 24: First-Quarter Moon
The Moon is at first quarter today, exactly one-quarter of the way through its month-long cycle of phases. It lines up at a right angle to Earth and the Sun, so sunlight illuminates half of the lunar hemisphere that faces our way.
March 25: First Leap
A gazelle leaps past the Big Dipper. In ancient skylore it made three leaps, each marked by a pair of stars. Those that mark the first jump are Alula Borealis and Alula Australis. As night falls, they are almost due east, far to the right of the dipper.
March 26: Dog Stars
The stars Procyon and Sirius arc to the lower right of the Moon as night falls and wheel down the western sky later on. Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky. Procyon, which is much closer to the Moon, is in the top 10 as well.
March 27: Hercules Rising
Hercules climbs into prominence during spring. Most of its stars clear the northeastern horizon by about 11 p.m. Look for a pattern of four moderately bright stars that looks like a shield. This pattern, the Keystone, represents Hercules’ body.
March 28: M82
M82, a galaxy that is a factory for exploding stars, loops high across the northern sky tonight. It stands to the upper left of the bowl of the Big Dipper as darkness falls. M82’s most recent supernova blasted into view four years ago.