Our Spring Sky at Night

by Geoffrey Lindop, 28th March 2024
Meteor shower Leaderfoot Viaduct | Scottish Borders Credit: Phil Wilkinson
Our Spring Sky at Night

Spring brings skies lighter later but is also fairly quiet in astronomical terms, so the perfect time to get better aquainted with the night sky. Author and night sky expert Geoffrey Lindop takes you on a tour of what to expect in the Spring skies.

The Spring Triangle with the stars Arcturus, Spica and Regulus – or Denebola.

The Spring Triangle

Spring is a good time to see the constellations of Leo, the Lion, and Virgo, the Virgin. They are high in the southern sky around midnight, which is dominated by three very bright stars, which are called the Spring Triangle.

Start your tour of the night sky by finding the Plough, which is always visible in the north of our sky. It consists of seven fairly bright stars. The handle of the Plough is curved, and if you can imagine extending that curve, you will reach a very bright star called Arcturus.


Light from the Sun takes about eight minutes to reach the Earth, but Arcturus is so far away that it takes its light 36 years to enter our eyes. That may seem a long way away, but actually it is only nine times further away than our nearest stellar neighbour.

It is what astronomers call a Red Giant star because it has used up all its hydrogen fuel. Consequently, it has expanded with a diameter 25 times that of our Sun. It has the same mass as our Sun but is much older. If you look at Arcturus tonight you will see what our own Sun will be like in about 5 billion years.


Just over 7 times further away than Arcturus is the star Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo. Light from Spica takes 260 years to reach us. Spica is not one, but two stars that are so close together that their mutual gravity distorts them into two egg shapes.

Regulus and Denebola

Arcturus and Spica are joined by Regulus to make up the Spring Triangle. Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation of Leo, is much the same visual brightness as Spica, but is much nearer, being just over twice as far away as Arcturus at 80 light-years. We see it as a single star, but in fact it is four stars.

Some astronomers consider the Spring Triangle as consisting of Arcturus, Spica and Denebola. Like Regulus, Denebola is in the constellation of Leo, and although not as bright as Regulus, does form a more isosceles triangle. Denebola is roughly the same distance from the Sun as Arcturus, but is much fainter.

Denebola is much younger than the Earth and was born in our Devonian period when plant life formed what is now coal. Denebola has a shorter life expectancy than our Sun due to its much larger size that consumes its hydrogen fuel at a faster rate.

Lyrids Meteor Shower

April offers the chance to see the Lyrids meteor shower between the 19th and the 25th, but the Moon will also be in the sky, so not the best time to see the shower. The shower will be at its maximum on April 22nd.

The sky stays lighter longer in the spring, but there are still plenty of stars to spot!

You can learn more with our Top Tips for stargazing and be sure to visit our Dark Skies section for all the information and inspiration to plan your next visit.

Geoffrey has written a guide to the night sky in the south of Scotland for those wanting to learn more – available to purchase at various locations or directly from the publisher.

We are grateful to Geoffrey for also producing a monthly night-by-night guide to the skies above us, so you can check out what there is to see throughout the upcoming spring months. And we will have more from Geoffrey on what to see in the night sky in the summer later this year.