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Moon and faint Cancer on March 8

Tonight – March 8, 2017 – the bright waxing gibbous moon shines in front of Cancer the Crab, the faintest constellation of the zodiac. Although the moon pinpoints Cancer’s place in the sky on this night, the moonlit glare will make Cancer virtually impossible to see.

However, you shouldn’t have much trouble spotting some bright stars of the zodiac. The Gemini stars, Castor and Pollux, lie to the west of tonight’s moon whereas the star Regulus, the brightest in the constellation Leo the Lion, shines to the east of tonight’s moon.

Look for the Beehive in between the Gemini stars Castor and Pollux and the star Regulus in Leo.

In any year, you can look for faint Cancer in between the Gemini stars Castor and Pollux and the star Regulus in Leo. If your sky is dark (no moon!), look for the Beehive star cluster in Cancer. In a dark sky, you can glimpse it with the eye alone.

As the Earth spins beneath the heavens throughout the night, going from west to east, the moon, Cancer, the Gemini stars and Regulus will appear to move westward across the sky.

The moon will set in the west in the wee hours before sunrise March 9.

Once the moon leaves the evening sky in the second half of March, use the Gemini stars and Regulus to locate the constellation Cancer, as displayed on the sky chart below.

Every month, the moon travels full circle through the constellations of the zodiac. The green line depicts the ecliptic – Earth’s orbital plane projected onto the stellar sphere.

Bottom line: The bright waxing gibbous moon shines in front of Cancer the Crab, the faintest constellation of the zodiac, on March 8, 2017.

Bruce McClure

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