February saw some nice astronomical activity, but what can we look forward to in March? Evenings are slowly getting warmer while remaining nicely dark, so here are some upcoming astronomy events for the next month to keep you looking skyward!
Thursday 1st March - First Quarter Moon
Monday 5th March – Mars is at its closest to the Earth today (image below), and Mercury is at greatest Eastern elongation meaning it’s at its furthest from the Sun. It should be visible in the west (under favourable conditions) for the first 2 weeks of the month just after sunset
Thursday 8th March – Full Moon, sometimes known as the Worm Moon
Saturday 10th March - The Moon is at Perigee (362,400 km), the closest point of its orbit this month
Tuesday 13th March – Tonight the two planets Venus and Jupiter appear only 3° apart in the night sky. Although they will be closest tonight, the distance between them will only increase slightly over the next few evenings
Thursday 15th March – Last Quarter Moon, plus the Jupiter and Venus conjunction continues in the western sky after sunset
Tuesday 20th March – Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere
Wednesday 21st March – The planet Mercury is in Inferior Conjunction (closest to the Sun) so it will be too bright to be visible
Thursday 22nd March – New Moon which doesn’t rise until the Sun comes up, so with it out of the way it’s a good night to view some deep sky objects
Saturday 24th March – The planet Uranus is in conjunction with the Sun; and Venus, Jupiter, the Moon and Mercury are aligned at sunset (in a switch around from the above), although Mercury will be lost in the glare from the Sun
Sunday 25th March – British Summer Time (BST) begins in the UK and clocks go forward one hour from 01:00 GMT to 02:00 BST. Following on from yesterday evening’s alignment, the Moon will appear to the right of Venus this evening, closer than they appeared on 26th January (as below)
Monday 26th March - Moon is at Apogee (405,780 km) the furthest point of its orbit from the Earth
Tuesday 27th March – Venus is at greatest Eastern elongation, and takes part in a great night sky display this evening. The Moon sits between the Hyades (in Taurus) and Pleiades star clusters, just above Venus and the setting Jupiter
Friday 30th March - First Quarter Moon
Planets visible this month:
Remember, it can take your eyes up to 20 minutes to become properly dark adapted, and anything up to an hour for a telescope to reach ambient temperature outside (to ensure the best image), so give yourself plenty of time to get set up!
To make it easier to find this list of astronomical happenings you can also locate it in the “Monthly Guide” section in the menu bar to the right. Handy!
Guide images created with Stellarium