Sun will set at 5:57 PM on March 1, and the moon, Mars, Venus and
Uranus will all be just above the western horizon at sunset. With
a magnitude of -4.6, Venus is very easy to spot. The moon is the
only other object in the night sky that is brighter and it will be
about 8 degrees above Venus. Mars and Uranus will also be very close to
the moon. Mars is the red object you can visibly see, and Uranus
is the blue object you can’t see unless you’ve got a good pair of
binoculars or a telescope.
and Uranus will stay close to the western horizon throughout the month.
Mars will seem to appear in the same area of the evening sky each
night, while Uranus will get closer and closer to the horizon with each
passing day. By the end of the month, you will probably not be able to
see it because the brightness of the setting sun will obscure the
will appear closer to the evening horizon with each passing day.
Then, starting on Match 20, you will be able to see Venus in both the
evening and the morning. Venus will set at 7:56 p.m., the sun sets at
7:13 p.m. and rises at 6:45 a.m. just before sunrise at 7:03 a.m. This
dual role as evening and morning star will be short-lived, and don’t
expect to see Venus in the evening skies after Match 24.
will start to be visible in the western skies starting around the
middle of the month. It will appear higher above the western
horizon each evening until early April. This makes the end of March an
excellent opportunity to observe this small planet!
will rise in the east at 9:04 p.m. on March 1, and Spica will rise
right after it slightly to the south. The pair will continue to
appear together throughout the month.
Saturn will begin the month rising at 2:14 a.m. By the end of the month, it will rise at 1:21 a.m.
the skies are very clear and very calm, you might be able to see
Canopus, the 2nd brightest star in the night sky, during the first part
of the month. It will appear near the southern horizon almost
directly beneath Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. If you
have never heard of Canopus, try reading “Dune” by Frank Herbert.
Arrakis - (aka Dune)- is the third planet orbiting Canopus. (If
you don’t have time to read the book, you might like the movie.)
I have not found any evidence of any exoplanets orbiting this star.
announced the discovery of seven Earth-size exoplanets orbiting
TRAPPIST-1. Scientists think all seven are rocky planets based upon
their measured densities. Scientists believe it is possible that
all of them could have liquid water, but three are located in the
“Goldie Locks Zone.” That means the orbits are in a range that’s
not too hot and not too cold for liquid water. Liquid water is
considered essential for the development of life as we know it.
is about 40 light-years from Earth. That means a spacecraft
traveling at 52 thousand miles per hour would take over 500 thousand
years to reach the exoplanet orbiting it.
night I had a neat experience. At about 9:15 p.m., I stepped out
of the observatory for a minute. As I opened the door, I saw the
shooting star of a lifetime - a fireball that streaked down toward the
western horizon burning out after 2 or 3 seconds. The fireball
itself was brighter than Venus. I reported the occurrence to the
American Meteor Society and found out I wasn’t the only person who saw
offered some very good opportunities to observe distant galaxies.
My favorite image is this one of Messier 63, the Sunflower Galaxy.
The Sunflower Galaxy is 37,000,000 light-years away. It’s a member of the M51 Group and has a visual magnitude of +9.3.
First Quarter: March 5
Full moon: March 12
Last Quarter: March 20
New moon: March 27
Lebing is a retired computer scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey
in Washington, D.C. He has visited Hatteras Island since the
mid-1970s. He and his wife, Karen, have owned property here for several
years and moved to their home in Waves full-time in 2013.
Astronomy is a subject that Gerry says he has always been interested in
and one that he pursues seriously -- he's built an small observatory
next to his house. You can send him questions about the night sky
through e-mail, [email protected]g.)