Posts Tagged ‘March’

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Astronomy Events – March 2016

February 29, 2016

by Adam Welbourn

If Spring is on the way it seems to have neglected to let the temperature know! The wind has been bitter recently, meaning the few crystal clear evenings we were afforded in February were too frosty for any serious viewing.

But with British Summer Time virtually upon us, nothing heralds the onset of more favourable outdoor conditions than longer days.

So in order to keep your curiosities piqued we’ve once again selected some astronomical happenings of note for the month, now get out into the dark and enjoy the infinite view!

Keep watching those skies…

Tuesday 1st March  – This evening our Moon will be seen at Last Quarter phase

Monday 7th March – In the early dawn light you may be able to spot the thinnest sliver of crescent Moon just above Venus. A great chance for some photography if your seeing conditions are favourable

If your eastern horizon is flat enough the sliver of Moon over Venus will be a great sight if your seeing conditions are good (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

If your eastern horizon is flat enough the sliver of Moon over Venus will be a great sight, if you can spot them in the early dawn light! (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Wednesday 8th March – Gas giant Jupiter is at opposition in the constellation Cancer this evening, meaning it rises at sunset and sets at sunrise. A good opportunity for observing or imaging this beauty!

Look to the south east about 22:00 UTC and you’ll find it as the brightest object in the night sky

With binoculars or a small telescope you can see Jupiter's moons - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

With binoculars or a small telescope you can see Jupiter’s moons – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Wednesday 9th March – Today the New Moon rises and sets with the Sun, so now is a good time to observe deep sky objects like galaxies and nebulae, or get a clearer look at objects usually blurred and faint in light polluted skies

Thursday 10th March – Today the Moon is at Perigee at a distance of 359,510 km (223,389 miles) from the Earth, the closest it will come on it’s current orbit

Tuesday 15th March – This afternoon the Moon will be seen at First Quarter phase

Wednesday 16th March – To help you identify the constellations you can see throughout the month, below we’ve provided guide images for both southern and northern skies in March

Shown at 00:00 UTC on 16th March, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking South (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Shown at 00:00 UTC on 16th March, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking South (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in March (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in March (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Sunday 20th March – Today is Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere

Wednesday 23rd March – This evening’s Full Moon is sometimes known as the Sleepy Moon, Fish Moon or Chaste Moon

A Full Moon can look bright and beautiful, but many details are lost in the glare (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

A Full Moon can look bright and beautiful, but many details are lost in the glare (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Inner planet Mercury is also in Superior Conjunction today and is unobservable until the end of the month

Friday 25th March – The Moon is at Apogee today at a distance of 406,125 km (252,354 miles), the furthest point its orbit will take it away from the Earth this month

Sunday 27th March – British Summer Time begins in the UK early this morning, as clocks go forward one hour at 01:00 UTC (to 02:00 BST)

Thursday 31st March – This afternoon the Moon is at Last Quarter phase, the second time this month

As usual, if you take any photos throughout March you’d like to show us, please tweet them to us using the link below! We’d love to see your efforts and we’ll re-tweet them to your fellow sky-watchers!

Planets visible this month:

Venus
Saturn
Mars
Uranus
Jupiter
Mercury

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

Archive:
Astronomy Events – February 2016
Astronomy Events – January 2016
Astronomy Events – December 2015

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Astronomy Events – March 2015

February 28, 2015

by yaska77

We’re now heading into one of my two favourite times of year. Spring and Autumn are perfect for some long evenings out under the stars, you still get the benefit of longer nights without the downside of frostbite!

There’s quite a lot to get excited about in March, plenty of the usual spotting opportunities and a solar eclipse into the bargain. Although it will only be partially visible from the UK, the Moon will still cross enough of the Sun for it to darken the sky. Keep fingers crossed we can all enjoy this rare marvel!

And to coincide with the eclipse the massively popular BBC series Stargazing Live returns, with live coverage of the eclipse in a TV first from the BBC. But I’ll post about that in more detail closer to the time!

With everything else and an eclipse there’s loads to see in March, so get outside and keep watching the skies…

Tuesday 3rd March Jupiter appears close by the waxing gibbous Moon this evening as they journey across the night sky. They will both shine brightly so you can’t miss them!

Wednesday 4th March – If you have access to a small telescope and fairly dark skies this evening, Venus appears only 6 arc minutes away from the often difficult to spot Uranus

Look towards the west from nightfall to spot Venus with Uranus this evening, but with the two so close it's a great opportunity to spot one of the harder to find planets (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Look towards the west from nightfall to spot Venus with Uranus this evening, but with the two so close it’s a great opportunity to spot one of the harder to find planets (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Uranus appears almost 10,000 times fainter than Venus but being so close it’s a good opportunity to use the brighter planet as a spotting guide!  Look low to the west soon after sunset and you may also spot Mars just below too

Thursday 5th March – The Full Moon today is sometimes known as the Fish Moon, Sleepy Moon or Chaste Moon

It’s also at Apogee at a distance of 406,385 km (252,516 miles), the furthest point out in its orbit around the Earth this month

Friday 13th March – This evening our Moon will be seen at Last Quarter phase

Monday 16th March – To help identify the constellations you can see throughout the month, below we’ve provided guide images for both southern and northern skies in March

Shown at 00:00 UTC on 16th March, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking South (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Shown at 00:00 UTC on 16th March, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking South (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in March (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in March (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Thursday 19th March – Today the Moon is at Perigee (the closest point of its orbit to the Earth) at a distance of 357,585 km (222,192 miles)

Friday 20th March – A solar eclipse occurs today, which will be at least partially visible from the UK. Those in the north west of the country will get the best show with the eclipse effect decreasing the further south east you are

A total solar eclipse will occur on Friday March 20, 2015. The only populated places where the totality can be seen, reachable by public travel, are the Faroe Islands and Svalbard, but it will be partially visible to the UK (click to enlarge) - Credit: Fred Espenak, NASA's GSFC

A total solar eclipse will occur on Friday March 20, 2015. The only populated places where the totality can be seen, reachable by public travel, are the Faroe Islands and Svalbard, but it will be partially visible from the UK (click to enlarge) – Credit: Fred Espenak, NASA’s GSFC

Beginning just after 08:00 UTC and continuing until nearly 11:00 UTC, totality will only be visible from the Faroe Islands or the archipelago of Svalbard (north of mainland Norway) but the BBC show Stargazing Live will be broadcasting live coverage on BBC1 at 09:00 UTC

Please remember though, never look at the Sun directly, you will damage your eyes

Solar eclipse glasses can be bought online (try Amazon or Ebay) and will give you a great but safe view of the Moon crossing the Sun

Today is also Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere

Sunday 22nd March – If you’ve got some binoculars you’ll have a great view of a beautifully bright Venus next to the thin crescent Moon this evening

Shown above at 19:30 UTC, if you have clear skies you'll get a great view of the thin cresent Moon and Venus this evening (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Shown above at 19:30 UTC, if you have clear skies you’ll get a great view of the thin cresent Moon and Venus this evening (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

If skies are clear enough you should be able to see Earthshine lighting the usually dark surface of the Moon!

This time at 4 second exposure, f/3.5 ISO100 - More of the Moon is lit by the Sun as it shines next to Venus (Jupiter is below the cloud) from 26th March 2012 (click to enlarge) Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Taken at 4 second exposure, f/3.5 ISO100 – Earthshine is light reflecting from the Earth to reveal details on the surface of the Moon usually hidden in shadow. Here we imaged a similar conjunction of Venus and the Moon on 26th March 2012 (click to enlarge) Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

We took the image above in March 2012, but it’s not too dissimilar to how they will look this evening!

Friday 27th March – This morning the Moon is at First Quarter phase

Sunday 29th March – British Summer Time begins in the UK, and the clocks go forward 1 hour from 01:00 GMT/UTC to 02:00 BST

As usual, if you take any photos throughout March you’d like to show us, please tweet them to us using the link below! We’d love to see your efforts and we’ll re-tweet them to your fellow sky-watchers!

Planets visible this month:

Jupiter
Mars
Mercury
Saturn
Uranus
Venus

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

Archive:
Astronomy Events – February 2015
Astronomy Events – January 2015
Astronomy Events – December 2014

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Astronomy Events – March 2014

February 28, 2014

by yaska77

The weather is turning! It must be by now!? After the wettest (and probably windiest) winter on record in the UK karma best be ready to give us an amazing Spring!!

The layer of dust currently sitting on our telescopes could be used to insulate a small home.

So we’re eager for some dry, clear and wind-free evenings to get back into observing and imaging our skies. Thankfully you can always be sure someone has a good view of the night sky, so we’re enjoying keeping up with fellow enthusiasts like us on Twitter, because there are images aplenty to at least temporarily satiate our passion for astronomy!

However, to help keep you inspired we’ve noted below some points of astronomical interest for the upcoming calendar month. Keep watching the skies!

Saturday 1st March – The New Moon rises with (and sets just after) the Sun today, so now is a good time to observe deep sky objects when the skies are unaffected by moonlight

There is a second New Moon at the end of the month

Monday 3rd March – Ringed planet Saturn reaches stationary point today, and will now be in retrograde motion where it appears to move contrary to it’s usual course across the sky

Brightening slightly by the end of the month, Saturn is always one of the most beautiful sights to see if you have a telescope or good pair of binoculars

Despite its attraction we've not managed to image Saturn all that often, so we're hoping for another go at imaging it over March (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Despite its attraction we’ve not managed to image Saturn all that often, so we’re hoping for another go at it over March (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Friday 7th March – Orange giant star Aldebaran (part of the constellation Taurus) is visited closely by the Moon this evening, which sits nicely in the middle of the Hyades cluster (to the south west) directly to the right of Orion

Moon and Aldebaran 21.00 UTC 07032014 Sky-Watching.co.uk

The Moon makes a close visit to Aldebaran and the Hyades cluster this evening. Shown above at 21:00 UTC to the WSW (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Saturday 8th March – The Moon can be seen at First Quarter phase this evening

Tuesday 11th March – Today the Moon is at Apogee at a distance of 405,365 km (251,882 miles) the furthest point out in its orbit around the Earth

Friday 14th March Mercury is at Greatest Western Elongation today, however the planet is too close to the Sun this month for any meaningful observation from our latitudes

Sunday 16th March – The Full Moon in the sky tonight is also sometimes known as the Fish Moon, Sleepy Moon or Chaste Moon

And continuing our recent addition to this guide, below we’ve provided constellation guides for Southern and Northern skies in March!

Shown at 00:00 UTC on 16th March, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking south (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Shown at 00:00 UTC on 16th March, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking south (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in March (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in March (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Thursday 20th March Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere (also known as the Vernal Equinox)

Saturday 22nd March Venus is at Greatest Western Elongation this morning, meaning the bright planet can be seen rising before sunrise

Monday 24th March – This morning the Moon is seen at Last Quarter phase

Thursday 27th March – The crescent Moon is at Perigee today at a distance of 365,705 km (227,239 miles), the closest point of its orbit to the Earth, and appears very close to Venus in the early hours this morning

Shown below at 05:00 UTC, look low down towards the Eastern horizon

The waning crescent Moon appears very close to Venus in the early morning sky, shown at 05:00 UTC (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

The waning crescent Moon appears very close to Venus in the early morning sky, shown above at 05:00 UTC (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Sunday 30th March – British Summer Time begins in the UK, and the clocks go forward 1 hour from 01:00 GMT/UTC to 02:00 BST

And the second New Moon of the month makes this another good time to observe galaxies and nebulae with the Moon out of the way!

As usual, if you take any photos throughout March you’d like to show us, please tweet them to us using the link below! We’d love to see your efforts!

Planets visible this month:

Jupiter
Venus
Uranus
Mars
Mercury
Saturn

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

Archive:
Astronomy Events – February 2014
Astronomy Events – January 2014
Astronomy Events – December 2013

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Astronomy Events – March 2013

February 28, 2013

by yaska77

Well here we are at March already!  Spring is approaching, the days are getting longer and we’re hoping the weather also improves! This month we have the potential of a comet being visible to the naked eye, so read through below for details.

There should be something for everyone to enjoy so keep your eyes on the skies! 🙂

Monday 4th March – Today is a last quarter Moon and Mercury is in Inferior Conjunction so is not currently visible until towards the end of the month

Tuesday 5th March – The Moon is at Perigee today at a distance of 369,955 km (229,879 miles), the closest point in its orbit to the Earth

Monday 11th March – This evening it’s a New Moon which rises and sets just before the Sun, making it a good time to observe deep sky objects without interference from the Moon’s glare

One such object that looks great through binoculars or a small telescope is M44, the Beehive Cluster (also known as Praesepe)

M44 Beehive Cluster 11032013 2100UTC Sky-Watching.co.uk

Look high to the South around 21:00 UTC and you should be able to spot it! (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

We imaged the Beehive Cluster when Mars was passing in front of it in October 2011, and it looked great! If you’re going to try image this object yourself, why not tweet your results to us on Twitter!

mars-and-the-beehive-cluster

The Beehive Cluster is one of the nearest open clusters to our Solar System, approximately 577 light years away (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Wednesday 13th March – Discovered in June 2011, Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) reaches Perihelion (its closest approach to the Sun) on 10th March. However, as it is close to our star on this date our best chance of spotting it is from 12th March onwards as it moves away into twilight skies

On 13th March it will appear below the crescent Moon soon after sunset

Friday 15th March – Appearing slightly higher in the sky than on the 13th, the position of Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) is shown below. Should it have developed a tail it will point towards the Moon, and if predictions prove true should be visible to the naked eye!

Comet PANSTARRS 15032013 1900UTC Sky-Watching.co.uk

Shown above at 19:00 UTC close to the Western horizon on 15th March, comet PANSTARRS will appear higher each day, but will also diminish in brightness (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Sunday 17th March – Tonight’s Moon is seen in the First Quarter phase

Tuesday 19th MarchToday the Moon is at Apogee at a distance of 404,260 km (251196 miles), the farthest point in its orbit to the Earth

Wednesday 20th March – Today is the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere

Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) should be visible in slightly darker skies after 19:30 UTC, and we are praying for good weather (and to find a flat Western horizon with less light pollution) so we can try and image it! Exciting!

Comet PANSTARRS 20032013 1930UTC Sky-Watching.co.uk

If you look from the middle of the W shaped constellation Cassiopeia and through the Andromeda galaxy you should find the comet just above the horizon, as shown above at 19:30 UTC (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

By the end of the month (and into April) it will appear just below the Andromeda galaxy

Wednesday 27th MarchThe Full Moon this evening is also sometimes called the Fish Moon, Sleepy Moon or Chaste Moon

Thursday 28th March – The planet Venus is in Superior Conjunction, and Uranus is in conjunction with the Sun

Sunday 31st March – British Summer Time (BST) begins, with the clocks going forward one hour at 01:00 UTC (becoming 02:00 BST).  The Moon is also at Perigee for the second time this month today at a distance of 367,495 km (228,351 miles), and Mercury is at its greatest Western Elongation meaning it may be visible in the Eastern sky before sunrise

Planets visible this month:

Mercury
Jupiter
Saturn

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

Archive:
Astronomy Events – February 2013
Astronomy Events – January 2013
Astronomy Events – December 2012

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Star shredded by black hole

June 20, 2011

by tte-77

Image Credit: U Warwick / M Garlick

Astronomers have spied a star’s end as it is shredded by a black hole. Research shows that the star could have moved too close to the black hole getting sucked in by its huge gravitational forces.

The star’s final moments sent a flash of radiation hurtling towards Earth and the energy burst is still visible by telescope more than two-and-a-half months later according to a report in the journal Science.

NASA’s Swift mission constantly scans the skies for bursts of radiation, notifying astronomers when it locates potential flares. These bursts usually indicate the implosion of an ageing star, which produces a single, quick blast of energy.

But this event, first spotted on 28 March 2011 and designated Sw 1644+57, does not have the marks of an imploding sun.

What has intrigued researchers about this gamma ray burst is that it flared up four times over a period of four hours.

Astrophysicist Dr Andrew Levan from the University of Warwick and his colleagues suspected that they were looking at a very different sort of galactic event; one where a passing star got sucked into a black hole.

Source: BBC

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