PostHeaderIcon March-April 2010 Sky

March-April 2010 Starmap

Upcoming Events

March 3-16, 2010 – GLOBE at Night

The annual citizen-science stargazing event is back! Go outside any one of the above dates and take a look at Orion – no telescope or binoculars needed. GLOBE at Night wants to know how many stars you can see with just your eyes. But wait! They make it easy – you don’t have to count the stars – just compare what you see to diagrams, and pick the one that matches and submit your observations online. This data will be compiled into maps which will help astronomers track light pollution and how stargazing quality in various parts of the world.
Go to their webpage, download an observation packet, and take your family out to your backyard for some real science!
You’ll need to know your latitude and longitude:
Seattle is at: 47°37’N, 122°20’W

8:30pm Saturday, March 27, 2010 – Earth Hour

All you have to do for Earth Hour is turn off your lights – especially your outdoor lights for one hour at 8:30pm on March 27th. It’s that easy. Earth Hour is about awareness of energy conservation and climate change – with the added benefit of supporting Dark Skies Awareness and making stargazing awesome even in big cities.
You can sign up and get more information, or just turn off your lights. Tell a friend; ask your neighborhood businesses to participate. Anything you do helps.

Constellations and Observables:

Notable Sky Objects


Mars is high, bright, and beautiful in March and April. Look for a bright reddish star near the zenith – or check the starmap above for more detail. Mars was just at opposition a month ago, so now is still a wonderful time to look at it.


Saturn is also high in the sky as the night wears on, rising later than Mars, but visible most of the night.


Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus are all too close to the Sun to be visible.

New Constellations

BOÖTES – The Herdsman

SCIENCE: Arc to Arcturus, Speed on To Spica. This is how you find Boötes using the curve of the handle of the Big Dipper – and then that leads you on to Spica in Virgo!
Tau Boötes (sorta Boötes’ left foot) has an extrasolar planet! One of the so-called hot Jupiters. You can see this star just to the right of Arcturus – it’s the crook (corner) star off the little triangle that you’ll see there.
MYTH: The modern myth is that Boötes invented the plow, and therefore farming, and he’s the only “regular person” up in the sky – everyone else is a God, or partially Godlike, or something. I love this myth, because I can explain that Boötes is why we have cell phones and planetariums. It turns out that several different cultures depict Boötes as a herdsman or a farmer: the Saudi Arabians, the Egyptians (to whom the Herdsman is so important he also represents Osiris), the Greeks, and the Christians. Yowsa.

VIRGO – The Virgin (or “Princess”)

SCIENCE: Arc to Arcturus, Speed on To Spica. This is how you find Boötes using the curve of the handle of the Big Dipper – and then that leads you on to Spica in Virgo!
We are part of the Virgo Cluster Supercluster of galaxies – and it’s called the Virgo Supercluster Cluster because to see the rest of the galaxies in our group you look towards Virgo. There’s a bunch of beauties out there by Virgo’s face, so if you’ve got a scope, take a look, and if you don’t, look up some pretty pictures of our group of galaxies – most of them are over there.
MYTH: Worried about talking about virgins in mixed company? Well, princess is a perfectly acceptable way to talk about Virgo, also “girl” is good too. If your audience is up to it, you might mention that this virgin usually represents the Greek goddess of justice – so I wouldn’t try to cross her if I were you.

CORONA BOREALIS – The Northern Crown

SCIENCE: There’s not much too Corona Borealis, but it is a very noticeable grouping of stars, and therefore quite helpful in finding Hercules, especially in our murky Seattle skies.
MYTH: Obviously the Greek myth is about a crown, but the Housatonic Native Americans call this Ursa Major’s cave!

HERCULES – Hercules

SCIENCE: Do not miss M13 – the Hercules Globular Cluster! This is one of the oldest groups of stars in our galaxy – it’s like the old-folks home of stars.

Hercules Globular Cluster by the Hubble Space Telescope

Hercules Globular Cluster by the Hubble Space Telescope

MYTH: “Hercules is one of the oldest constellations, found in the cave drawings of primitive cultures. Not even the Greeks were sure of his origins. We are aware that very early cultures worshipped him, but who and what his starry figure stood for is a mystery.
“About 300 BC the Chaldeans said that this figure was standing victorious on the head of a twisting serpent. They associated these two figures, Hercules and Draco (the serpent) with their sun god, Ishdubar.
“The Chinese called Hercules ‘Titso’ or ‘the emperor’s seat’.” (From Zeta Strickland)

“Tiny” Guys

Going for the Gold? Here’s this month’s itty-bittys.

SERPENS – The Serpent
LYRA – The Lyre (just starting to peek up)
CORVUS – The Crow
CRATER – The Cup
COMA BERENICES – Berenice’s Hair
CANES VENATICI – The Hunting Dogs
LYNX – The Lynx
SEXTANS – The Sextant
HYDRA – The Sea Serpent (Big and dim, so big that it’s close to being biggest Northern Hemisphere constellation)
ANTILA – The Air Pump (Maybe you’ll see it, but it might be too far south)
MONOCEROS – The Unicorn
LACERTA – The Lizard
LEO MINOR – The Small Lion (Between the Big Dipper and Leo)

Returning Constellations

LEO – The Lion
CANCER – The Crab
ORION – The Hunter
TAURUS – The Bull
GEMINI – The Twins
CEPHEUS – King Cepheus
DRACO – The Dragon
URSA MAJOR – The Great Bear
URSA MINOR – The Little Bear

Happy Sky Viewing!

Where’d I Get My Info?

My memory, and Zeta Strickland

~ A l i c e !

One Response to “March-April 2010 Sky”

  • alicesastroinfo says:

    Correction: We are part of the Virgo Supercluster. The Virgo Cluster and the Local Group are both part of this supercluster.

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