Astronomy Info & Events - March

Moon Phases

March 5 First Quarter Moon
March 12 Full Moon (Full Worm Moon)
March 20 Last Quarter Moon
March 27 New Moon 

Special Events

March

Watch for comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak increase in brightness this month as it moves from the constellation of Leo, the lion, into the constellation of Ursa Major.  A telescope will be required to see this comet but outbursts in brightness are not uncommon for this periodic comet.  A finder chart and more information on the comets of 2017 can be found at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/binocular-comet-bonanza-in-2017/.  This comet will continue to brighten until mid-April so there is some time to view this comet.

March 1-4

Comet 2P/Encke is still visible with some difficulty below the planet Venus.  Binoculars or a telescope will be needed to view this comet.  This comet usually appears as a faint fuzzy ball with no real observable tail.  Try using the freeware astronomy program Stellarium available at http://www.stellarium.org to follow the path of this comet and more!

March 2

Venus Stationary

March 10

The rings of Uranus discovered 40 years ago.

March 12

Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (Edmonton Centre) meeting

Times:  7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. in Margaret Zeidler Star Theatre. This will be the Annual General Meeting and a Member’s Night. Free for anyone to attend.

Visit the RASC Website for more information

March 20

The Spring (Vernal) Equinox takes place at 4:29 a.m. MDT

March 25

Earth Hour (8:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. local time). See www.earthhour.org.

Planets

Mercury is not visible at the start of the month as it will be at superior conjunction on March 7.  It then slowly begins to appear along the western horizon after sunset starting on March 18.  For the rest of month, Mercury continues to gain elevation and should be easily seen after sunset in the western sky. Look for Mercury in the western sky just a little south of the bright planet Venus after sunset on March 19.

Venus is found shining brilliantly in the western sky at sunset at the start of the month but slowly disappears into the dusk glow around March 20.  When viewed through a telescope Venus takes on a very thin crescent shape during the first part of the month as the planet approaches inferior conjunction on March 25.  After March 25, Venus begins to slowly emerge along the eastern horizon before sunrise.  On March 1 you can see the bright planet Venus below and to the north of the fainter planet Mars and the waxing crescent Moon.

Mars is found in the western sky at sunset and starts the month located in Pisces, the fish, but by March 8, Mars moves into the adjacent constellation of Aries, the ram.  Looking west in the early part of the month, Mars will be much fainter than the planet Venus and will have a slight reddish-orange hue to it.  Look for Mars near the waxing crescent Moon after sunset on March 1 and March 30.

Jupiter rises along the eastern horizon about three hours after sunset and by sunrise is found shining brilliantly in the southwestern sky.  Look for Jupiter below and very near to the waning gibbous Moon during the nights of March 14 and 15.  Jupiter remains situated within the constellation of Virgo, the maiden, and is located just above the bright star Spica.

Saturn is found within the constellation of Sagittarius, the archer, and is seen shining low in the southeastern sky by dawn.  On March 20, Saturn will be found just below the last quarter Moon.