Spring Constellations in the Northern Hemisphere with Star Chart
Spring begins with the vernal equinox which occurs on March 20th in the Northern Hemisphere. This change heralds the rise of the spring constellations and sadly, we have to say goodbye to the bright stars of winter including the awesome Orion constellation.
Don’t despair! There are some interesting star groups to find in spring including a lion (Leo), a kite (Bootes), and a maiden (Virgo). The easiest way to orient yourself for spring constellation viewing is to look north when you go outside and find the Big Dipper (Ursa Major). It is the easiest constellation to find with it’s clearly defined bowl and handle. Use the stars of it’s bowl and look downward toward the horizon. There you will find the bright star, Regulus. Regulus is the the heart of Leo the Lion.
To find Bootes, the Kite – follow the handle of the Big Dipper across the sky until you see another bright star. This star is called Arcturus and it is the fourth brightest star in the night sky. Arcturus marks the point in the kite where the tail would be tied.
Virgo, the Maiden, is below Arcturus and behind the tail of Leo. Virgo is a very large constellation, in fact, it is the second largest in the night sky. The brightest star in Virgo is Spica. Spica is easy to find because there are no other bright stars in the vicinity. When you find Spica, you will have located the Maiden’s hand. Her head is toward Leo.
Enjoy the the spring viewing and don’t forget to watch for the occaisonal International Space Station (ISS) flyby!