Moon Makes A Winter Heptagon Then Touches The Lion’s Heart

The moon adds another side to the Winter Hexagon figure tonight. This map shows the sky facing south around 7-8 p.m. this evening (Feb. 26). Stellarium

Tonight the waxing gibbous moon joins the six bright winter stars that form the giant Winter Hexagon asterism to create a temporary 7-sided-figure or heptagon. The bright moon lingers at the border of Gemini, with its twin bright stars, Pollux and Castor, and dim Cancer.

Each night, our satellite travels eastward (to the left) about one outstretched fist as it orbits the Earth. During its approximately monthly cycle, it passes through the 12 zodiac constellations familiar from horoscopes but also several others like Cetus the Whale and Ophiuchus the Serpent-Bearer. Tonight’s alignment will help you pick out most of winter’s brightest stars, each of which will guide you to their parent constellations.

Bright Regulus in Leo the Lion and the nearly full moon will be in close conjunction on Feb. 28 this week. This map shows the duo at 10 p.m. Central time. Stellarium

On Wednesday, Feb. 28, the almost-full moon passes very close to the bright star Regulus in the constellation Leo. You don’t have to know Leo to find it either. Just look at the moon once it gets dark out; Regulus will be located just one moon diameter (½°) below the moon. Use binoculars if you have difficulty spotting it through the glare!