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Tonight, the waning gibbous moon beams near two bright and beautiful stars
Posted By Gary Wamsley On March 29, 2010 @ 10:16 pm In Earth & Sky | Comments Disabled
Courtesy of EarthSky
A Clear Voice for Science
Tonight, the waning gibbous  moon beams near two bright and beautiful stars, Arcturus and Spica. Sparkling above the eastern horizon at early to mid evening, these stars travel westward (along with the moon) throughout the night, and stand high in your southern sky in the wee hours after midnight. As dawn starts to color the sky, these gems light up the western sky.
In early spring, these two springtime stars shine all night long.
Although yellow-orange Arcturus appears much brighter than blue-white Spica to our eye, that is 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 would shine over 100 times more brightly than the sun. However, Spica at the sun’s distance away would shine with the firepower of over 2,000 suns!
Unlike the fickle moon, the Big Dipper guides you to these springtime stars, Arcturus  and Spica , with the utmost faithfulness. At nightfall, the Big Dipper  stands on its handle in your northeast sky, and it looks to me like a kite flying in the March wind.
This evening for binoculars:
Written by Bruce McClure
Sky and Telescope 
National Geographic 
Space Com 
Amazing Space 
James S McDonnell 
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URLs in this post:
 www.EarthSky.org: http://www.EarthSky.org
 Image: http://www.berthoudrecorder.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/10mar30_430.jpg
 waning gibbous: http://earthsky.org/tonightpost/moon-phases/waning-gibbous
 light-years: http://earthsky.org/tonightpost/astronomy-essentials/how-far-is-a-light-year
 Arcturus: http://earthsky.org/es-tonight/follow-the-arc-to-arcturus
 Spica: http://earthsky.org/es-tonight/drive-a-spike-to-spica
 Big Dipper: http://earthsky.org/es-tonight/recognize-the-big-dipper-and-little-dipper
 Mercury and Venus in same binocular field after sunset: http://earthsky.org/es-tonight/mercury-and-venus-in-same-binocular-field-after-sunset
 Astronomy Picture of the Day from NASA/JPL: http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/
 Sky and Telescope: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/ataglance/
 National Geographic: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/
 Space Com: http://www.space.com/nightsky/
 Amazing Space: http://amazing-space.stsci.edu/tonights_sky/
 The York County Astronomical Society: http://www.ycas.org/tonights_sky.htm
 Scope City: http://www.scopecity.net/
 James S McDonnell Planetarium: http://www.slsc.org/WhatToDo/Planetarium/NightSkyUpdate.aspx
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