Tour March’s Sky! | March 1st, 2014

The Northern Hemisphere is starting to thaw out from winter, so the nights aren’t nearly so cold, and yet the dazzling winter stars are still overhead. The March equinox falls on the 20th at 12:57 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

In the deepening blue after sunset, look for brilliant Sirius, the Dog Star. It's the brightest star in the entire sky by a large margin (aside from our own Sun, of course), in part because it’s a close neighbor in space — just 8½ light-years away.

Jupiter in Gemini
Jupiter, intertwined with the stars of Gemini, is nearly overhead as darkness falls in March.
Sky & Telescope diagram
Above Sirius are Procyon and Betelgeuse, which, together with stunning Jupiter higher up, make an enormous diamond shape about as tall as four times the width of your clenched first held at arm’s length.

To Jupiter's upper left are a pair of bright stars: creamy colored Pollux and icy white Castor, the twins of Gemini. They’re similar in brightness, so to tell which one is which, just remember that Pollux (with a P) is the one closer to Procyon. Scan farther left to spot Regulus, rising with Leo in the east.

To guide your view of the late-winter sky sights, download this month's 7¼-minute-long audio audio sky tour.