The steeply dipping morning ecliptic will maintain Mercury simply above the jap horizon in the course of the pre-dawn all through March, however it should solely be observable by mid-northern latitude observers till about mid-month, with one of the best viewing time touchdown at 6 a.m. native time. (In the meantime, the Southern Hemisphere will see one of the best Mercury apparition for 2021!)
The speedy planet will start March positioned barely above and between Jupiter and Saturn, go inside 20 arc-minutes to the north of a lot brighter Jupiter on March 5, after which attain peak visibility at best western elongation, 27 levels from the Solar, on March 6. Seen in a telescope in the course of the month, Mercury will sport a disk that decreases in obvious diameter from 7.Eight to five.Four arc-seconds, and a part that waxes from 48-per-cent to 85-per-cent illuminated. The slim crescent of the outdated Moon will go nicely to the south of Mercury on March 10-11.
Venus might be too near the Solar to see throughout March. The planet will go the Solar at superior conjunction on March 26, after which Venus will enter the western night sky for a prolonged keep.
Mars’ eastward orbital movement alongside the Ecliptic throughout March will maintain it from sliding sunward with the remainder of the celebrities, permitting us to view the planet from nightfall till about midnight. In northern Taurus all month lengthy, Mars will go between the Hyades and Pleiades star clusters on the nights surrounding March 7-8. On these evenings Mars will seem with the Pleiades in binoculars. The intense, waxing crescent Moon will hop previous Mars on March 18-19. A number of nights later, Mars will go solely seven levels north of a “twin,” Taurus’ vibrant, reddish star Aldebaran. Long gone its prominence of October 2020, Mars continues to steadily fade in brightness and obvious measurement as Earth pulls away from it. It is going to shine at magnitude 0.9 on March 1 and fade to magnitude 1.Three on March 31. Over the identical interval, its obvious disk measurement will lower from 6.Three to five.2 arc-seconds.
Magnitude -2.0 Jupiter will shine within the east-southeastern pre-dawn sky throughout March – however the shallow morning ecliptic will maintain the planet comparatively low, even as soon as it emerges from the morning twilight in the direction of the top of the month. Jupiter and Saturn will each be touring eastward throughout the boundaries of Capricornus in March – with fainter Saturn sitting 8-12 levels to Jupiter’s (higher proper) west. Quick-moving Mercury will go 20 arc-minutes to the north of a lot brighter Jupiter on March 5. The outdated crescent Moon’s passage south of the pre-dawn planets from March 9-11 will make a number of pretty photograph alternatives (particularly for observers residing at tropical latitudes the place the Moon and planets will shine in a darker sky). Seen in a telescope throughout March, Jupiter will exhibit a rising disk that spans about 34 arc-seconds.
Throughout March, Saturn will shine in a darkened, east-southeastern pre-dawn sky, among the many stars of western Capricornus, however the shallow morning Ecliptic will maintain the ringed planet from climbing very excessive earlier than dawn. Magnitude-0.7 Saturn will rise at about 5:40 a.m. native time on March 1 and at 4:45 a.m. at month-end. A lot brighter Jupiter might be positioned about 10 levels to Saturn’s decrease left (east), and speedy Mercury will transfer simply above and between the gasoline giants in the course of the first week of the month. The outdated crescent Moon’s passage south of the pre-dawn planets from March 9-11 will make a number of pretty photograph alternatives (particularly for observers residing at tropical latitudes the place the Moon and planets will shine in a darker sky). When considered via a telescope, Saturn’s imply obvious disk measurement of 15.6 arc-seconds will enhance barely throughout March.
Throughout March, magnitude-5.8 Uranus might be slowly touring eastward via the celebrities of southwestern Aries. It will likely be descending the western sky after nightfall, making the blue-green planet an early night goal solely. Telescope views of Uranus will present its tiny 3.5 arc-seconds-wide disk. On March 16, the waxing crescent Moon will shine 3.5 levels to the southwest of Uranus. Notice Uranus’ place about halfway between the medium-bright stars Menkar (Alpha Ceti) and Sheratan (Beta Arietis) and seek for it with binoculars, and even your unaided eyes, on a subsequent moonless night time.
Distant blue Neptune might be too near the Solar for observing throughout March. After it passes the Solar at photo voltaic conjunction on March 10-11, it should ultimately re-appear within the jap pre-dawn sky.
Chris Vaughan is a science author, geophysicist, astronomer, planetary scientist and an “outreach RASCal.” He writes Astronomy Skylights, and you may comply with him on Twitter at @astrogeoguy. He may also carry his Digital Starlab transportable inflatable planetarium to your faculty or different daytime or night occasion. Contact him via AstroGeo.ca to tour the universe collectively.