Venus, the dazzling Evening Star, commands the evening sky this month. It rises almost straight up from the horizon, so it stands fairly high as darkness falls. Mars is beginning its climb across the morning sky, so it gets brighter and stands higher as the month progresses. It’s trailed by Jupiter, the brightest star-like point of light in the sky other than Venus. Among the stars, brilliant Capella shines high overhead during mid-evening. The brightest light of Auriga the charioteer, it shines yellow-orange.
February 28: Pleiades
The Pleiades star cluster shines throughout the evening. It looks like a tiny dipper-shaped pattern of stars and stands high overhead at nightfall. It represents the shoulder of Taurus, the bull.
February 29: Leap Day
Today is Leap Day, which is added to (almost) every fourth February to keep the calendar in sync with the seasons. It was first added by Julius Caesar. Pope Gregory XIII ordered that one Leap Day be dropped every 400 years to fine-tune the calendar.
March 1: Moon and Aldebaran
Aldebaran, the bright orange star that marks the eye of Taurus, the bull, stands to the upper left of the Moon this evening, and to the lower right of the Moon tomorrow night.
March 2: First-Quarter Moon
The Moon is at first quarter at 1:57 p.m. CST today as it aligns at a right angle to the line between Earth and the Sun. Sunlight illuminates half of the lunar hemisphere that faces our way.
March 3: Leo
March comes in like a lion as Leo springs across the sky. It crouches low in the east at nightfall and leaps high overhead later on. Its brightest star, Regulus, is at the bottom of the hook-shaped pattern of stars that outlines Leo’s head and mane.
March 4: Early Summer
Summer is months away, but the season’s best-known star pattern is already peeking into view in the pre-dawn sky. The Summer Triangle, which is marked by the stars Vega, Deneb, and Altair, stands well up in the east at first light.
March 5: Good Librations
As the Moon orbits Earth, the same hemisphere always faces our way. Over the course of its month-long cycle of phases, however, the Moon “wobbles” a bit, allowing us to see a total of 59 percent of the lunar surface.