What to See in the Spring Night Sky

By Tim Trott, 14th February 2013 in Sky at Night

Spring deep sky objects In March and April include the Leo Triplet (M65, M66 and NGC 3628) are a fine sight in a 6 or 8 inch telescope, and there are several open and globular clusters worth observing as well.

Spring Deep Sky Objects are some of the best of the year with a multitude of galaxies and star clusters before the short summer nights take hold, and is prime time for the Leo triplet of galaxies. Sitting about half way between the stars Chertan and Iota Leonis, the three galaxies are a sight to behold as they all fit within the field of view of a small telescope.

The Leo Triplet is best observed during the beginning and end of the month when the Moon is low in the sky, or hasn't yet risen.

Location of Leo Triplet (M65, M66 and NGC 3628)
Location of Leo Triplet (M65, M66 and NGC 3628)

March is also the time to look out for the Beehive cluster (M44) in Cancer as it will be high in the sky. It is visible with the naked eye from a dark site, and a superb star cluster to observe in a small telescope.
Beehive cluster M44
Beehive cluster M44

If you're just beginning to observe galaxies then Messier M81 - Bode's Galaxy, and Messier M82 - Cigar Galaxy - in the constellation of Ursa Major are a nice bright pair to track down. They are located very close to one another, about 2° east of the star 24 Ursae Majoris.
M81 and M82 Location
M81 and M82 Location

The spring night skies are also home to some wonderful globular clusters. M3 in Canes Venatici and M5 in Serpens are good targets for a small telescope and can also be glimpsed with binoculars from sites with dark skies.

Spring Meteor Showers

Spring is a quiet time for meteors, there is just the annual Lyrids Meteor Shower and Eta Aquarids to look out for, both in April. The Lyrids are visible from around the 16th to 25th April and you can expect between 5 to 20 meteors per hour. The Eta Aquarids are active from around the 19th to 28th.

Click here for a visual guide to meteor showers.

Spring Time Constellations

Spring is an ideal time to observe the following constellations.

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