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What should you get your sweetie for Valentine's Day?
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What should you get your sweetie for Valentine's Day?

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Sauk Prairie will get a glimpse of one of the two eclipses that will occur over the next thirty days. The total solar eclipse is only visible over the Atlantic Ocean ending toward the North Pole on March 20, and the total lunar eclipse is best seen in western North America on April 4. However, the partial phase of the lunar eclipse will greet those who rise before the sun on the morning of April 4.

The Full Moon occurs on April 4 at 7:05 a.m., but the moon sets just before this, around 6:40 a.m., as the partial eclipse is ongoing. The partial phase begins around 5:17 a.m., as the moon slips into the deeper part of Earth’s shadow and begins to turn a bit red. The moon will become close to completely eclipsed around 6:34 a.m., just as it is setting. This will make for a strange and wondrous view for those awaking to the day to find a “blood red” moon setting in the west.

At the same time that the moon is setting, the sun is rising in the east. Sunrise will continue to arrive earlier every morning and sunset later every evening from the spring equinox on March 20 through June. Spring arrives precisely on March 20 at 5:45 p.m.

Spring planets and constellations

On March 21, a day after the new moon and eclipse graces the far north, a crescent moon returns to the sky just after sunset. The moon will be right beside Mars, and the next night the moon rises a bit higher to float beside Venus. On March 29 the moon will be high in the sky and not far from Jupiter. The moon and Saturn keep close quarters around April 8, but they don’t rise until after midnight.

Back in the west, Venus draws attention as it shines at magnitude -4 and stays above the horizon for three hours. In early April, Venus closes in on the star cluster the Pleiades in the constellation Taurus. This grouping of stars is setting in the west while the spring constellations rise in the east. Leo, Virgo, and Libra rise up from the horizon, carrying along a slew of distant galaxies that can be viewed through large telescopes. Ursa Major, the Big Dipper, is taking on its spring look, with the bowl of the dipper turning upside down as it sends spring showers to Earth.

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