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Sky Tonight—March 17, Moon swings close to Leo’s bright star Regulus
Posted By Editor On March 16, 2011 @ 8:22 pm In Earth & Sky | Comments Disabled
Courtesy of EarthSky
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 Can you find the star that is shining close to the big and bright waxing gibbous moon  tonight? That is Regulus; the brightest star in the constellation Leo the Lion. Regulus  is the only first-magnitude star to sit almost exactly on the ecliptic.
The ecliptic is the Earth’s orbital plane projected outward onto the sphere of stars. The ecliptic is often shown on sky charts, because the moon and planets are always found on or near the ecliptic.
Four first-magnitude stars reside close enough to the ecliptic to be occulted – covered over – by the moon on occasion: Regulus, Spica , Antares , and Aldebaran . In fact, the moon last occulted Antares during January and February of 2010. Although no more lunar occultations of first-magnitude stars are in the works for 2011, lunar occultations of bright stars are not uncommon.
However, an occultation of a first-magnitude star by a planet is extremely rare. The last time a planet occulted a first-magnitude star was when Venus  occulted Regulus on July 7, 1959. The next time will be when Venus occults Regulus on October 1, 2044.
Before 1959, the most recent planet/first-magnitude star occultation took place on November 10, 1783, when Venus occulted Spica. Venus will again occult Spica on September 2, 2197.
Tonight, on Thursday, March 17, the moon shines close to Leo’s brightest star, Regulus, the only first-magnitude star to sit almost exactly on the ecliptic.
By Bruce McClure 
EarthSky: Space 
CHANDRA Photo Album 
Universe Today 
StarDate Online 
Sky and Telescope 
National Geographic 
Space Com 
Simostronomy Blog 
Amazing Space 
Scope City 
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URL to article: http://www.berthoudrecorder.com/2011/03/16/sky-tonight%e2%80%94march-17-moon-swings-close-to-leo%e2%80%99s-bright-star-regulus/
URLs in this post:
 www.EarthSky.org: http://www.EarthSky.org
 Image: http://www.berthoudrecorder.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/phase17.gif
 Image: http://www.berthoudrecorder.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/mar17.jpg
 waxing gibbous moon: http://earthsky.org/tonightpost/moon-phases/waxing-gibbous
 Regulus: http://earthsky.org/tonightpost/brightest-stars/best-regulus-the-heart-of-the-lion
 Spica: http://earthsky.org/tonightpost/brightest-stars/speed-on-to-spica-the-15th-brightest-star
 Antares: http://earthsky.org/tonightpost/brightest-stars/antares-rivals-mars-as-the-scorpions-heart
 Aldebaran: http://earthsky.org/tonightpost/brightest-stars/aldebaran-is-taurus-bloodshot-eye
 Where is the ecliptic in relation to the Milky Way?: http://earthsky.org/space/where-is-the-ecliptic-in-relation-to-the-milky-way
 Venus: http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/bright-object-planet-venus-2011-planets-2011-planets-tonight
 Antares: Heart of the Scorpion: http://earthsky.org/brightest-stars/antares-rivals-mars-as-the-scorpions-heart
 Bruce McClure: http://earthsky.org/team/brucemcclure/
 Astronomy Picture of the Day from NASA/JPL: http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/
 EarthSky: Space: http://earthsky.org/space
 CHANDRA Photo Album: http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/
 U.S. Naval Observator Astronomical Information cente: http://www.usno.navy.mil/USNO/astronomical-applications/astronomical-information-center/astronomical-information-center
 Universe Today: http://www.universetoday.com/
 StarDate Online: http://stardate.org/
 Sky and Telescope: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/ataglance/
 National Geographic: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/
 Space Com: http://www.space.com/nightsky/
 Simostronomy Blog: http://simostronomy.blogspot.com/
 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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