February came and went quickly as it normally does. The days are getting longer and several interesting objects are beginning to compete with sunset for visibility before setting themselves.
Venus and Jupiter are in conjunction on March 1st. If you missed it, they will still be close together on the 2nd with them drifting further apart each day. Venus will be visible all month getting higher each day, with Jupiter sinking lower and getting harder to see as it sets close to the sun in the early evening. Mars will be visible all month, getting less and less bright as the distance from Earth increases.
On the 23rd, Venus, the Moon and Jupiter all line up around sunset, low on the horizon almost due west.
For the astrophotographers out there, March is the start of galaxy season! In in the spring, due to the axial tilt of our planet, we are looking above the plane of the Milky Way into sky less obscured by local dust and stars. In fall, we look below the plane of the Milky Way, but that area of sky has fewer interesting targets for astrophotographers.
A great explanation can be found here along with some impressive star maps showing the density of interesting targets.
Remember, the clocks spring forward on Sunday, March 12th at 2 AM which for some of us means more waiting around after work for the sun to set!
See Jeff Stetekluh’s Observing Corner for detailed astronomical calculations: Jeff’s Corner
The Sun Mar 12 rises at 7:24 AM, sets at 7:12 PM The Moon Mar 7 Full Moon Mar 14 Last Quarter Mar 21 New Moon Mar 28 First Quarter Events Mar 12 EDT starts Mar 15 Neptune is in conjunction with the Sun (from Espenak) Mar 17 Mercury is in superior conjunction (from Espenak) Mar 20 Vernal equinox (from Espenak) The Planets Mar 12 rises transits sets Mercury 7:23 AM 1:05 PM 6:47 PM Venus 8:46 AM 3:20 PM 9:55 PM Mars 11:47 AM 7:21 PM 2:57 AM Jupiter 8:26 AM 2:43 PM 9:00 PM Saturn 6:40 AM 12:01 PM 5:22 PM mag diam notes for Mar 12 ---- ----- ---------------- Mercury -1.4 4.9" Venus -4.0 12.8" WSW, 31* Mars 0.7 7.4" S, 77* Jupiter -2.1 33.6" W, 21* Saturn 0.9 15.4" (* degrees elevation at sunset taking into account atmospheric refraction) (mag = apparent magnitude, diam = apparent equatorial angular diameter)
I came home around 6:30pm and looking west saw an unusual celestial phenomenon that was not moving, so I concluded it was not a plane. What in the world could it be? I opened the sky safari and identified this strange position of Venus and Mars
A little later I read the email I received from you and everything was clear. I tried to see this from my porch, but it was hidden by the house. All in all, an interesting night that made my day, so to speak.