This article was contributed by David Baumgartner as part of a local series on astronomy.
This month we come to another bright constellation, Leo the lion. It is one of the easiest to recognize, mainly because it looks like a lion, or at least you can imagine it that way. The brightest star in this constellation is Regulus, the lion’s heart. Above it is a C-shaped curve of stars, his mane and head, which is facing to the right in the sky.
There is a considerable gap where his back should be, and then you come to a large triangle of fairly bright stars, they represent the end of his back, legs and tail. Leo is another constellation of the zodiac, that is, the ecliptic passes through it. Regulus is very close to the ecliptic, so the moon and planets pass near it and sometimes even in front of it. The most interesting star in this constellation is Algieba, which is actually a double star. If you have a telescope you can make it out vary distinctly.
I enjoy all the calls I get from the readers of this column with their questions. I try to answer them the best I can. There are some really good imaginations out there. The most frequent question I hear is, “What telescope should I buy?” My answer: Don’t just jump at the first one you see. Do your homework before you buy. Check out size, cost and type. Talk to as many people you can who have already bought one. In the long run you will be glad you did.
March Sky Watch
March 16: Moon at last quarter
March 18: Moon passes 0.7° south of Mars
March 18: Moon passes 1.5° south of Jupiter
March 18: Moon passes 0.9° south of Pluto
March 18: Moon passes 2° south of Saturn
March 19: Vernal equinox occurs at 9:50 p.m.
March 20: Mars passes 0.7° south of Jupiter
March 21: Moon passes 4° south of Mercury
March 24: New Moon occurs at 2:28 a.m.
March 24: Moon is at apogee (252,707 miles from Earth)
March 26: Moon passes 4° south of Uranus
March 28: Moon passes 7° south of Venus
March 31: Mars passes 0.9° south of Saturn