The spring sky

© Gerd Altmann

As we move into spring with its longer daylight we say goodbye to the winter constellations and their bright stars.

You can still see them in the South West part of the sky after Sunset but they set as the evening progresses. The Milky Way which stretches through them is also getting low.

The spring constellations are not as spectacular, from the middle of town some can be difficult to see at all. From an astronomers point of view we are now looking out of our galaxy and our distant view is of the Globular Clusters surrounding our galaxy and the multitude of other galaxies.

A Globular Cluster can be thought of as a ball of stars, but what a ball! Typically containing half a million stars they are so close together that if the Earth was inside a cluster we would never see a truly dark sky. They are an ancient part of our galaxy and are around it rather than in it. There is a halo of them which completely surrounds our galaxy and we can see other galaxies have such a halo of clusters as well. The brightest can be seen with binoculars but you really need a telescope to see them at their best.

The constellations of Leo, Virgo, Canes Venatici and Coma Berenices contain thousands of galaxies, sadly none of them visible to the naked eye and all best seen by taking a long exposure photograph.

Mars will be with us in the evening sky for much of the year but is getting further away with each week and smaller and fainter. It will be December 2022 before we can see it big and bright and high in a winter sky again. The other major planets, Jupiter and Saturn are early morning objects and Venus is too close to the Sun to view this month.