Probably the most good of all planets – Venus – is out of the observing loop for all of March, being positioned too close to to the photo voltaic glare to be seen. Mars stays the lone night planet, although it has light down into the ranks of a second magnitude object, a far cry from the fiery jewel that dominated our sky lower than half a yr in the past. Three planets – Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn – occupy the morning sky, albeit low and competing with the intense twilight. On March 10th they’re joined by a stunning waning crescent moon. We recommend you discover a location with a transparent and unobstructed east-southeast horizon and use a pair of binoculars to get essentially the most out of this “celestial summit assembly.”
In our schedule, do not forget that when measuring the angular separation between two celestial objects, your clenched fist held at arm’s size measures roughly 10 levels. Right here, we current a schedule under which offers a few of the greatest planet viewing occasions as properly directing you as to the place to look to see them.
Mercury – stands at best elongation, 27° west of the solar on the morning of March sixth. The day earlier than, Mercury shall be engaged in a really shut conjunction with Jupiter and later they’re joined by Saturn. See further particulars about these two planets under. Now properly south of the solar at this apparition, Mercury after midmonth comes up too close to dawn for simple commentary from mid-northern latitudes.
Venus – is out of sight for this whole month, because it arrives at superior conjunction on March 26th – positioned on the other facet of the solar as seen from our Earthly perspective – and hopelessly misplaced within the photo voltaic glare.
Earth – on March 20th, at 5:37 a.m. EDT, from our perspective. the solar seems to cross the celestial equator transferring north. Spring begins within the Northern Hemisphere and autumn begins within the Southern Hemisphere.
Mars – hangs excessive within the west at nightfall. Drifting eastward by Taurus, it has diminished to a faint little nothing in comparison with what it was only a few months in the past. The golden-orange planet begins the month shining only a trifle dimmer than lighter-orange Aldebaran 13° to its left. However Mars continues to fade as its distance from Earth will increase and it’s only a tiny dot in most telescopes; barely giant sufficient for helpful observations irrespective of how good your scope or expert your eye. On March 2nd and third, you’ll discover it passing 2½° southeast of the attractive Pleiades star cluster. On the night of March 19th, as darkness falls, you’ll see a large crescent moon hovering excessive within the southwest sky. And located 3° to its decrease proper will shine Mars.
Jupiter and Mercury are barely above the east-southeast horizon throughout daybreak, however on the morning off March fifth, they’re engaged in a really shut conjunction, separated by simply 0.35°. Mercury (magnitude +0.1), the photo voltaic system’s smallest planet, will sit simply to the higher left of a lot brighter Jupiter (magnitude -2.0); the photo voltaic system’s greatest planet handily outshines the smallest by an element of seven. Binoculars will show to be most useful in making a sighting of those two planets in opposition to the intense twilight backdrop a couple of half hour earlier than dawn. Jupiter might be noticed simply 5° above the southeast horizon a half hour earlier than dawn on March 1st, however it’s 13° up on the similar stage of daybreak on March 31st.
Saturn – rises minutes after the primary gentle of daybreak in early March, and practically an hour earlier than at month’s finish. However its southerly declination will preserve it frustratingly low for northern observers. On the morning of March 10th, a half-hour earlier than dawn, three planets are strung-out, low throughout the east-southeast sky, and accompanied this morning by a slender waning crescent moon, 9 p.c illuminated by the solar. Lowest of the planet trio is Mercury. Jupiter is 4½° to Mercury’s higher proper whereas 9° to the higher proper of Jupiter is Saturn (magnitude +0.7). As for the thin moon, you’ll discover it about 6° to Jupiter’s decrease proper. As soon as once more, binoculars will enhance your possibilities of sighting this gathering low in opposition to the intense twilight sky. Good luck!
Joe Rao serves as an teacher and visitor lecturer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Pure Historical past journal, the Farmers’ Almanac and different publications in New York’s decrease Hudson Valley. Observe us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Fb.