Spring conquers the starry sky over Hamburg in March. And after midnight the stars of summer already appear in the east.
Hamburg. On 20. March, one hour before midnight it is so far: The sun crosses the earth equator northward in the "spring point" and shines from now on preferably on the northern hemisphere. Spring begins. The sun now sets later and later in the evening and rises earlier and earlier in the morning.
Only around 8 p.m. the stars appear in the evening twilight. The first star to appear above the southern horizon is Sirius, the brightest star of the night sky. It follows the Star figure of the celestial hunter Orion towards the western horizon. Orion’s three belt stars are at the same altitude in the late evening, parallel to the horizon in the west. If we follow you as a signpost horizontally to the left, to the south, we come across Sirius,. Reversed from Sirius, over the belt of Orion to the right to Aldebaran, the main star of Taurus and to a compact group of stars, the "Pleiades.
In the late evening all these "jewels" of winter are at the same height above the western horizon before they set at the beginning of the second half of the night. Highest above the west direction the twin stars Castor and Pollux show up. Almost as high, but twice as high as the Pleiades, the bright Capella in the Fuhrmann shines over the west direction.
Hydra is the largest "land of the sky"
Below the Pleiades, a point of light catches our eye by its calm, reddish glow. It is the planet Mars, which grows fainter as our Earth moves further and further away from it. If at the beginning of the month the distance is 265 million kilometers, it increases to more than 300 million km by the end of the month. Nevertheless, Mars offers us a spectacle worth seeing as it moves rapidly from Aries into Taurus, entering this magnificent celestial area of bright stars and star clusters. Until the end of the month Mars is heading towards the "seven stars", the beautiful star cluster of the "Pleiades" in Taurus, which can be seen well with the naked eye, better with binoculars.
At the end of March and beginning of April Mars and the Pleiades can be seen in binoculars in the same field of view. On 30. March Mars passes three degrees south of the Pleiades. To the left of Mars and the Pleiades sparkles the reddish Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus, with the V-shaped star cluster of the Hyades. Already at the 12. In March the waxing moon between Pleiades and Hyades passes through the "Golden Gate of the Ecliptic". Evening after evening, the moon thickens and moves from Taurus into Gemini, Cancer and Leo.
Most important constellation of the spring sky
Looking south late in the evening toward the center of the sky, toward Leo and Virgo, we look increasingly steeply out of our flattened Milky Way system into the depths of space; thus, compared to the winter sky, it is rather star-poor regions that lie in our line of sight.
Halay to the southern horizon, sparkles "Alphard", the main star in the constellation Water Snake. Among all the 88 constellations internationally valid today, this little-known constellation is the largest "land of the sky" in terms of area. It meanders along the southern horizon. "Hydra" is the Latin name for the constellation in international use. As big as it is, as poor it is on the other hand in bright stars. "Alphard", the brightest star in Hydra, is already quite lost above the southern horizon. It is an orange giant star, about 40 times larger than the sun, at a distance of 175 light years with the true luminosity of 400 suns.
Regulus, the brightest star in Leo, is half as far away at 77 light years. This means we see light emitted from its surface 77 years ago. Regulus is at the western, right end of the base of a star trapezoid, which is supposed to mark the body of Leo. At the eastern end shines Beta Leonis, the second brightest star of Leo. Along with Virgo and the Big Dipper, it is probably the most important constellation we should remember in the spring sky. We find the head and mane of Leo in the form of a "mirrored question mark," a crescent-shaped group of stars rising from Regulus.
Parallel to the base of the lion trapezoid the box of the Big Dipper rises high above our heads towards zenith. The figure is not a constellation of its own, but it is the brightest stars of the more expansive constellation "Great Bear". If we extend the arc of the wagon drawbar, it leads us to the bright, reddish star Arcturus in the Bear’s Keeper. If we pull the drawbar arc further to the southeast, we meet the stars of Virgo. It follows Leo in the zodiac.
Beautiful crescent moon
On 21. March our moon reaches the full moon position in the constellation Virgo and stays all night in the sky. Spica, the brightest star in Virgo and Arcturus in the Bear’s Keeper rise higher hour by hour. After midnight the stars of summer already appear in the east: the summer triangle and in the south the scorpion.
Brightly shines towards the end of the night in the south Giant planet Jupiter. He stays in the constellation of Serpent Bear, which stretches between Scorpio and Sagittarius and is sometimes referred to as the "13. Zodiacal constellation" is called. On 27. Jupiter gets a visit from the waning moon, a magnificent sight for all early risers. Because around five o’clock ring planet Saturn also rose in the constellation Sagittarius. It shines much fainter than Jupiter. In the morning of 29. March the crescent moon passes just south of Saturn.
In the rising dawn Venus is also visible as "morning star", but only for a short time, because her great time is over. It is best to try on the 3. March, when a beautiful crescent moon makes a guest appearance with Venus. So early risers can enjoy at the beginning and at the end of the month at about six o’clock in the morning a magnificent panorama of Venus and Saturn in the southeast, to Jupiter in the south, with a moon crescent.