In the News MarchClose Shave!
March 1, A close conjunction of Venus and Jupiter occurs this evening. Just after sunset, low on the Western horizon, these two planets are separated by about the width of our Moon. Not an occultation--like we witnessed at the end of January when the Moon completely hid Mars from view--but surely an unusual pairing of these two bright objects in the night sky. I wonder what stories our ancient predecessors spun to mark an event like this! Spring Forward!
March 12, It's that time of the year again... With the onset of daylight savings time this month, pleasurable early evening observing sessions will begin one hour later. Grin and bear it! It will be Autumn before you know it! Of course, it is best to have one's cake and eat it too! So, for our solar observing friends, bring on those solar spots and magnificent views of the roiling plasma and solar prominences of the sun! Yes! Time for Pi!
March 14, The ratio of a circle’s circumference (the distance around it) to its diameter (the distance across it) is always equal to pi; that ratio is 3.14. So, join the fun this March 14th (3.14) and explore a good peach pie from a scientific point of view today! It's math, it can't be fattening! Half and Half--and Auroras?
March 20, Today marks the official arrival of Spring. The time of Equinox, twelve hours of day and twelve hours of night. The sun will rise due East and set due West. Something I did not know... The times of equinox, both Spring and Fall are prime aurora seasons! This co-incidence is something that has been noted since long ago! Don't you hate to find out that "Duh, everybody knows this!" Bob King of Sky and Telescope magazine explains the ins and outs of auroras Here.> Speaking of Galaxies
Earth's journey around the sun has taken us to the season when our nighttime view of the heavens faces away from the center of our galaxy. The Milky Way's bright stars of winter are replaced by deep-sky views of distant galaxies. And what a conundrum studying galaxies can be! The JWST has now catalogued a number of very large galaxies with birthdates "too close" to the estimated time of the big bang. Stand by! Our cosmological model may need some serious tweaking!
A few more March Observing Notes Worth Sharing!
March Moon Phases are on the 7's! Full Moon on March 7th, Final Quarter on the 14th, New Moon on the 21st, and First Quarter Moon on the 28th.
March 22-April 1, Enjoy the waxing Moon as it grows from crescent through gibbous. The Moon will appear near Jupiter on March 22, Venus on March 23 and 24, the Pleiades star cluster on March 25, Mars on March 27 and 28, Pollux on March 29, and Regulus on April 1. A fine period to be moon gazing!
Zodiacal Light... or visible "dust" if you will! If you can get to a dark sky location near the time of the New Moon, Spring (and Fall) are the prime times for catching the zodiacal light, a pyramid of sunlight reflecting off of tiny dust grains in the plane of the solar system. It's still on my bucket list. Have you seen it?
Jupiter pretty much concludes its sunward trajectory this month. By the end of the month, Venus and a diminishing Mars will be the only planetary fare for evening observers. By March 31st, Saturn will once again grace the pre-dawn skies.
On-Line Programs to enjoy on a cloudy night!
--Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Image of Aristarchus Crater released Dec 1st, 2022 LROC.
--The McDonald Observatory Archive of livestreams can be found Here.
--Lowell Observatory's most recent livestreamed program can be found Here.
--The STSCI lecture series archives can be found Here.