Eyes to the Sky: Look high and low for waning spring stars


Leo the celestial lion -- the charming, stand-out constellation of springtime -- is poised to disappear from the night sky. With summer officially here, the stars that are spring favorites, seen in the east at nightfall, are now in the west as darkness gathers. Leo's brightest star, bluish-white Regulus, marks the lion's heart. It appears in the west, just above and to the left of Venus, which is the brilliant light close to the west-northwest horizon at 9:30 p.m.

Notice the lion's head and front leg that resemble a backward question mark; it is known as The Sickle. To the left, an elongated triangle shapes his haunches and tail. Denebola, derived from Arabic for tail, is the white star at the far tip of the constellation.

Corvus the Crow seems to trail Leo. Corvus, a diamond-shaped quadrilateral that looks like a perfect kite or soaring bird, sets in the southwest, the lion to its right. Leo follows the path of Venus, which sets near 10 p.m. all week. An unobstructed view of the western horizon is of the essence.

Corvus is a constant companion of Virgo the Virgin. Bluish Spica, the brightest star in Virgo, is above and to the left of Corvus. Spica is paired with golden planet Saturn. They hang side by side in the southwest, a most significant, bright pairing in the evening sky.

Saturn and Spica form the base of a long triangle topped by the brightest star now in the heavens, red-orange Arcturus. Arcturus ushered in the spring sky shortly after the Vernal Equinox and will light the night until soon after the Autumn Equinox.

To contact Judy Isacoff go to: www.naturesturn.org


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