We’re now heading into one of my two favourite times of year. Spring and Autumn are perfect for some long evenings out under the stars, you still get the benefit of longer nights without the downside of frostbite!
There’s quite a lot to get excited about in March, plenty of the usual spotting opportunities and a solar eclipse into the bargain. Although it will only be partially visible from the UK, the Moon will still cross enough of the Sun for it to darken the sky. Keep fingers crossed we can all enjoy this rare marvel!
And to coincide with the eclipse the massively popular BBC series Stargazing Live returns, with live coverage of the eclipse in a TV first from the BBC. But I’ll post about that in more detail closer to the time!
With everything else and an eclipse there’s loads to see in March, so get outside and keep watching the skies…
Tuesday 3rd March – Jupiter appears close by the waxing gibbous Moon this evening as they journey across the night sky. They will both shine brightly so you can’t miss them!
Uranus appears almost 10,000 times fainter than Venus but being so close it’s a good opportunity to use the brighter planet as a spotting guide! Look low to the west soon after sunset and you may also spot Mars just below too
Thursday 5th March – The Full Moon today is sometimes known as the Fish Moon, Sleepy Moon or Chaste Moon
It’s also at Apogee at a distance of 406,385 km (252,516 miles), the furthest point out in its orbit around the Earth this month
Friday 13th March – This evening our Moon will be seen at Last Quarter phase
Monday 16th March – To help identify the constellations you can see throughout the month, below we’ve provided guide images for both southern and northern skies in March
Thursday 19th March – Today the Moon is at Perigee (the closest point of its orbit to the Earth) at a distance of 357,585 km (222,192 miles)
Friday 20th March – A solar eclipse occurs today, which will be at least partially visible from the UK. Those in the north west of the country will get the best show with the eclipse effect decreasing the further south east you are
Beginning just after 08:00 UTC and continuing until nearly 11:00 UTC, totality will only be visible from the Faroe Islands or the archipelago of Svalbard (north of mainland Norway) but the BBC show Stargazing Live will be broadcasting live coverage on BBC1 at 09:00 UTC
Please remember though, never look at the Sun directly, you will damage your eyes
Today is also Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere
Sunday 22nd March – If you’ve got some binoculars you’ll have a great view of a beautifully bright Venus next to the thin crescent Moon this evening
If skies are clear enough you should be able to see Earthshine lighting the usually dark surface of the Moon!
We took the image above in March 2012, but it’s not too dissimilar to how they will look this evening!
Friday 27th March – This morning the Moon is at First Quarter phase
Sunday 29th March – British Summer Time begins in the UK, and the clocks go forward 1 hour from 01:00 GMT/UTC to 02:00 BST
As usual, if you take any photos throughout March you’d like to show us, please tweet them to us using the link below! We’d love to see your efforts and we’ll re-tweet them to your fellow sky-watchers!
Planets visible this month:
Remember, it can take your eyes up to 20 minutes to become properly dark adapted, and anything up to an hour for a telescope to reach ambient temperature outside (to ensure the best image), so give yourself plenty of time to get set up!
To make it easier to find this list of astronomical happenings you can also locate it in the “Monthly Guide” section in the menu bar to the right. Handy! 🙂
Guide images created with StellariumFollow @sky_watching