During the first few days of March, the planet Mars passes just below the Pleiades Star Cluster. The Pleiades is one of the closest star clusters to Earth and one of the easiest to locate. This is also a great chance to watch a planet shift position from night to night, as Mars moves past the cluster.
To check it out, head out after dark and look high to the west. Look for Mars as a semi-bright orange star. The Pleiades sometimes is mistaken as a little dipper, to help you recognize the cluster. Use binoculars to get the best view. Visit our star charts page for a chart to help you find the pair.
On Tuesday, Feb. 23, as the sky grows dark the moon will pass in front of and occult the star kappa Gemini. This is a somewhat bright 3.5 magnitude star, and one of the brightest the moon will occult this year. The occultation will happen early in the evening as the sky is just beginning to grow dark. The star is going to barely pass behind the moon’s north pole. In fact, if you live in northern Arkansas you’ll see a very narrow miss. The farther south you are the longer the star will be behind the moon. Thus, the timing of the event is very dependent on your location. For most of central and southern Arkansas you’ll want to begin watching by 6pm and it’ll finish by 6:30pm. You will need a good pair of binoculars or a small telescope to watch this event. The image shows the moon around 6pm, as seen from central Arkansas, along with the path it will take behind the moon.