Editor's note: This article was originally intended to appear in the March 1 edition of the Hesperia Star. It is being printed in today's edition in its entirety.
Picture, in your mind, the night sky as a giant dome overhead, with the stars as fixed points of light (such as you'd see in a planetarium).
For us, in the Northern hemisphere, the "wheel" pivots on Polaris, the North Star, at the end of the Little Dipper's (Ursa Minor, or little bear) "handle." All the stars pivot on Polaris and the ones closest to it (termed circum-polar starms) never set, only change position like the numbers on a clock face.
Those farther away from Polaris pinwheel in the night sky and actually rise eastward and set westward.
Picture, too, the sun, moon and planets, which all follow a narrow imaginary line called the "ecliptic." Since we are at 34 degrees north latitude and the orbit of Earth is 23 1/2 degrees to the plane of its orbit around the sun, the ecliptic changes position from season to season, positioning itself farther south in the winter and farther north in the summer months.
We'll continue this lesson next month.
All the planets, except Jupiter, are morning "stars," meaning they're visible at dawn. Jupiter is now an evening "star," visible at dusk. Spring (the equinox) arrives on Saturday and there is a partial eclipse of the moon in the early morning hours of March 23.
You'll hear from me again in April!