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Published 14th February 2013 by

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 Planets

Mercury will be visible in the evening sky from mid-February to early March, and in the morning from late March to early May. Mercury returns to the evening sky between early June and mid-July, then back to the morning sky between early August through to mid-August. Look for Mercury again in the evening sky between late September and early November. Mercury will be brightest in the evening sky between February and March.

Venus is always brilliant, shining with a steady, silvery light. Mornings in the eastern sky at dawn from early January through to mid-June. Then, because of its close proximity to the sun, it will be invisible all through the summer into the early fall. Venus will return to the evening, in the western sky at dusk from Early October through till the end of December.

Mars, The Red Planet is visible in the night sky from January to mid-July, then shifts to the morning sky from mid Oct to the end of December.

Jupiter is a splendid object visible in the southern sky as soon as darkness falls and does not set until early morning. Using higher magnifications you will see the yellowish flattened disc and as the four Galilean satellites. You should be able to follow the movement of these moons from night-to-night. It will be visible in the mornings from January to May, evenings from May to November, and mornings again from mid-December to the end of December.

Saturn shines like a yellowish-white "star" of moderate brightness. The famous rings are only visible in a telescope. Saturn is visible in the mornings from late January to early July, then in the evenings from July to December.

Spring Deep Sky Objects

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 halfway 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.

Spring Deep Space Objects

  • C3 - Draco (12h 16.7m +69° 28m)
  • C6 Cats Eye Nebula - Draco (17h 58.6m +66° 38m)
  • C21 - Cains Venactici (12h 28.2m +44° 06m)
  • C26 - Cains Venactici (12h 17.5m +37° 49m)
  • C29 - Cains Venactici (13h 10.9m +37° 03m)
  • C32 - Cains Venactici (12h 42.1m +32° 32m)
  • C40 - Leo (11h 20.1m +18° 21m)
  • C45 - Bootes (13h 37.5m +08° 53m)
  • C48 - Cancer (09h 10.3m +07° 02m)
  • C52 - Virgo (12h 48.6m -05° 48m)
  • C58 - Canis Major (07h 17.8m -15° 37m)
  • C60 The Antennae - Corvus (12h 01.9m -18° 52m)
  • C61 The Antennae - Corvus (12h 01.9m -18° 53m)
  • C64 Tau CMa Cluster - Canis Major (07h 18.8m -24° 57m)
  • C94 Jewel Box Cluster - Crux (12h 53.6m -60° 20m)
  • C98 - Crux (12h 42.3m -62° 58m)
  • C99 Coal Sack - Crux (12h 53m -63° 00m)
  • M40 - Ursa Major (12h 22.4m 58° 05m)
  • M41 - Canis Major (06h 47.0m -20° 44m)
  • M44 Praesepe - Cancer (08h 40.1m 19° 59m)
  • M46 - Puppis (07h 41.8m -14° 49m)
  • M47 - Puppis (07h 36.6m -14° 30m)
  • M48 - Hydra (08h 13.8m -05° 48m)
  • M49 - Virgo (12h 29.8m 08° 00m)
  • M50 - Monoceros (07h 03.2m -08° 20m)
  • M51 The Whirlpool Galaxy - Cains Venactici (13h 29.9m 47° 12m)
  • M61 - Virgo (12h 21.9m 04° 28m)
  • M63 The Sunflower Galaxy - Cains Venactici (13h 15.8m 42° 02m)
  • M64 The Blackeye Galaxy - Coma Berenices (12h 56.7m 21° 41m)
  • M65 - Leo (11h 18.9m 13° 05m)
  • M66 - Leo (11h 20.2m 12° 59m)
  • M67 - Cancer (08h 50.4m 11° 49m)
  • M81 Bodems Galaxy - Ursa Major (09h 55.6m 69° 04m)
  • M82 Cigar Galaxy - Ursa Major (09h 55.8m 69° 41m)
  • M85 - Coma Berenices (12h 25.4m 18° 11m)
  • M93 - Puppis (07h 44.6m -23° 52m)
  • M93 - Puppis (07h 44.6m -23° 52m)
  • M94 - Cains Venactici (12h 50.9m 41° 07m)
  • M95 - Leo (10h 44.0m 11° 42m)
  • M96 - Leo (10h 46.8m 11° 49m)
  • M97 The Owl Nebula - Ursa Major (11h 14.8m 55° 01m)
  • M101 Pinwheel Galaxy - Ursa Major (14h 03.3m 54° 21m)
  • M102 Spindle Galaxy - Draco (15h 06.5m 55° 45m)
  • M104 Sombrero Galaxy - Virgo (12h 40.0m -11° 37m)
  • M105 - Leo (10h 47.8m 12° 35m)
  • M106 - Cains Venactici (12h 19.0m 47° 18m)
  • M108 - Ursa Major (11h 11.5m 55° 40m)
  • M109 - Ursa Major (11h 57.6m 53° 23m)

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