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Moon and two colorful springtime stars evening until dawn

2015-april-5-spica-arcturus-moon-night-sky-chart

Tonight for April 5, 2015

When the moon drops out of the evening sky in another day or two, use the Big Dipper to arc to Arcturus.

When the moon drops out of the evening sky in another day or two, use the Big Dipper to arc to Arcturus.

Tonight, the just past-full waning gibbous moon beams near two bright and beautiful stars, Arcturus and Spica. Sparkling above the eastern horizon at early evening, these stars travel westward (along with the moon) throughout the night. They shine high in the southern sky in the wee hours after midnight, and as dawn starts to color the sky, these gems light up the western sky.

Moon’s rising time into your sky

Although yellow-orange Arcturus appears much brighter than blue-white Spica to our eye, that’s only because Spica is so much farther away from us. Arcturus resides about 37 light-years away, whereas Spica lies some 7 times farther off than that, at 260 light-years distant. If Arcturus stood at the sun’s distance from us, it’d shine over 100 times more brightly than the sun. But Spica at the sun’s distance away would shine with the firepower of over 2,000 suns!

First full moon of spring

Photo of the first full moon of spring 2013 taken by Birgit Boden in northern Sweden on March 26, 2013. Thank you Birgit! See more great photos on our facebook page.

Unlike the fickle moon, the Big Dipper guides you to these springtime stars, Arcturus and Spica, with the utmost faithfulness, day after day. At nightfall, the Big Dipper stands on its handle in your northeast sky, looking like a kite flying in the March wind.

Use the moon to find Arcturus and Spica tonight, and then use the Big Dipper to locate these colorful springtime stars for months to come!