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S&T: Lauren Darby

Nights are getting shorter, but the temperature is warming. So take advantage of these late-winter evenings to cruise your way across the star-spangled sky.

We think of March as the prelude to spring. But in fact it's the time of year when the entire parade of showy winter constellations — Orion (framed by the bright stars Betelgeuse and Rigel), his two dogs, the bull Taurus, and Gemini's twins. In a month or so these winter delights will be sinking out of sight in the evening twilight.

Meanwhile, Venus, the "Evening Star," is still a snap to spot in the west after sunset. But this dazzler is slowly making its exit after dominating the evening sky for months.

Taking its place is the Saturn, which rises in the east about the time that the Sun sets. Do you notice that the ringed planet isn't quite as bright as it usually looks? You'll learn why if you download our audio sky tour. It's a 6-megabyte MP3 file that runs 5m 53s.


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