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Stuck home? Planets, moon providing predawn entertainment
Published Wednesday, March 18, 2020 11:59AM EDT
In this March 10, 2020, file photo, vehicles are dwarfed as the nearly full moon rises in the distance in Shawnee, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FLA. -- Stuck at home this week? The planets and our moon are providing some early morning entertainment.
Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and a crescent moon will be clustered together in the southeastern sky just before daybreak. Mercury will peek above the horizon.
All this is happening amid the earliest March equinox in 124 years.
The vernal equinox, which marks the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere -- and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere -- will occur late Thursday night in the U.S. That's the earliest since 1896.
This is also a good time to spot Sirius, the brightest star in our night sky. Barely 8.6 light-years away, Sirius is especially brilliant this time of year. It's also known as the Dog Star because it's in the Canis Major constellation.
To spot Sirius, find Orion in the southern sky and follow Orion's belt. The three stars making up the belt point toward Sirius, downward in the Northern Hemisphere and upward in the Southern Hemisphere.