Astronomy Events – March 2015

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by yaska77

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!

Wednesday 4th March – If you have access to a small telescope and fairly dark skies this evening, Venus appears only 6 arc minutes away from the often difficult to spot Uranus

Look towards the west from nightfall to spot Venus with Uranus this evening, but with the two so close it's a great opportunity to spot one of the harder to find planets (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Look towards the west from nightfall to spot Venus with Uranus this evening, but with the two so close it’s a great opportunity to spot one of the harder to find planets (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

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

Shown at 00:00 UTC on 16th March, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking South (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Shown at 00:00 UTC on 16th March, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking South (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in March (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in March (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

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

A total solar eclipse will occur on Friday March 20, 2015. The only populated places where the totality can be seen, reachable by public travel, are the Faroe Islands and Svalbard, but it will be partially visible to the UK (click to enlarge) - Credit: Fred Espenak, NASA's GSFC
A total solar eclipse will occur on Friday March 20, 2015. The only populated places where the totality can be seen, reachable by public travel, are the Faroe Islands and Svalbard, but it will be partially visible from the UK (click to enlarge) – Credit: Fred Espenak, NASA’s GSFC

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

Solar eclipse glasses can be bought online (try Amazon or Ebay) and will give you a great but safe view of the Moon crossing the Sun

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

Shown above at 19:30 UTC, if you have clear skies you'll get a great view of the thin cresent Moon and Venus this evening (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Shown above at 19:30 UTC, if you have clear skies you’ll get a great view of the thin cresent Moon and Venus this evening (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

If skies are clear enough you should be able to see Earthshine lighting the usually dark surface of the Moon!

This time at 4 second exposure, f/3.5 ISO100 - More of the Moon is lit by the Sun as it shines next to Venus (Jupiter is below the cloud) from 26th March 2012 (click to enlarge) Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
Taken at 4 second exposure, f/3.5 ISO100 – Earthshine is light reflecting from the Earth to reveal details on the surface of the Moon usually hidden in shadow. Here we imaged a similar conjunction of Venus and the Moon on 26th March 2012 (click to enlarge) Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

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:

Jupiter
Mars
Mercury
Saturn
Uranus
Venus

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 Stellarium

Archive:
Astronomy Events – February 2015
Astronomy Events – January 2015
Astronomy Events – December 2014

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

    Thank you – I read your blog every month to keep an eye out in the skies. I caught the Venus Mars crescent moon conjunction last month- such a feast for the eyes! I hadn’t realised the significance of earthshine- I thought it was a distraction and kept reducing exposure times to get craters in focus. Looking forward to the next crescent moon so can focus on earthshine this time – https://sukanyaramanujan.wordpress.com/2015/02/21/venus-and-mars-in-conjunction-feb-21-2015/

    Like

    1. yaska77 says:

      Thank you Sukanya for visiting, and taking the time to comment! It makes it feel more worthwhile when we know people are getting use out of our posts 🙂

      Love your pictures too, there’s a lot to see in March so hopefully you can take more to show us! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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