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Extend the Big Dipper handle to spike Spica

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Tonight for April 2, 2015

Follow the arc to Arcturus, and drive a spike to Spica. First find the Big Dipper in the northeast in the evening sky, and then follow the curve in the Big Dipper’s handle to the star Arcturus in the constellation Bootes: follow the arc to Arcturus. Now extend the curve in the handle into the southeastern sky: drive a spike to Spica. You should be able to see these stars, despite the glaring light of the almost full moon. By the way, the moon will pass quite close to Spica o the night of April 4.

The little square star pattern near Spica is another constellation, Corvus the Crow.

The little square star pattern near Spica is another constellation, Corvus the Crow.

Spica in the constellation Virgo looks like one star, but this single point of light is really a multiple star system – with at least two member stars and possibly more – located an estimated distance of 262 light-years away. Spica’s constellation, Virgo, is so large and rambling and difficult to see that we haven’t marked it. However, you can look for a little squarish figure even farther to the south than Spica. This square star pattern is the constellation Corvus the Crow (Raven).

A planisphere is virtually indispensable for beginning stargazers. Order your EarthSky planisphere today.

Bottom line: Use the Big Dipper to arc to the star Arcturus. Then drive a spike to the star Spica on these springtime evenings!