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The March Night Sky

The sky is not a painting, it's a movie. Stars pulse, flare, some explode as supernova, asteroids whiz by the earth, new comets appear in the sky, Aurora sets the northern skies ablaze and meteors streak through Earth's atmosphere.

 Astronomy Picture of the Day

See below Hubble site Tonight's Sky, highlights of this months night sky movie with narration below. Click on photo below.

Daylight Savings Time Begins

Daylight Saving Time (United States) 2015 begins at 2:00 AM on March 8, 2015. To set your clocks just remember: Spring Forward Fall Back.

Spring Begins March 20, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

The March equinox begins the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from south to north. On the equinox, night and day are almost equal, the same length – 12 hours – all over the world. This is the reason it's called an “equinox”, derived from Latin, meaning "equal night"

The Full Moon for March

 The Full Worm Moon – March As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, and was considered to be the last full Moon of winter. Courtesy Farmers Almanac.

Lunar Phases

Full Moon March 5 1:06 pm EST
Last Quarter Moon March 13 1:49 pm EST
New Moon March 20 5:38 am EST
First Quarter Moon March 27 3:43 am EST

March  Lunar Highlights

All times are EST

The Planets Visibility for March

Mercury

Morning sky ESE

 Mercury appears in the morning sky as March begins. Mercury is very low on the east southeastern horizon and becoming lower each day as it draws close to the Sun. Mercury is at 0.0 magnitude and a diameter of 00°00'.06" and a phase of 65.88%. The planet is located in the constellation Capricornus. Mercury rises at 5:36 a.m.. The glare from the Sun rising at 6:41 will make Mercury a difficult object to observe in the pre-dawn sky.

Venus

Evening sky WSW

 Venus is prominent now and visible right after sunset in the west southwest Setting around 9:20 p.m. early March. Venus midmonth is at -4.0 magnitude, a diameter of 00°00'.13", a phase of 82.73% and located in the constellation Pisces and sets at 9:59 p.m.. Uranus appears above Venus and Mars appears below Venus in a line on March 1st after sunset. On March 4th Venus climbs above Uranus and appears very close to Uranus being only an Angular separation: 00°16'28" apart after sunset. March 16th Venus moves into Aries.

Mars

Evening sky WSW

Mars midmonth is at +1.3 magnitude and a diameter of 00°00'.04" located in the constellation Pisces and sets at 9:08 p.m.. Look on March 15th for Mars and a new but faint comet, 2015 C2 (SWAN) to be only an Angular separation: 00°11'28" apart. It will take a large telescope to see the comet. To find Mars look for a reddish object low in the west southwest sky. To see which part of the surface is visible at any time, check out the Mars Profiler at Sky & Telescope Magazine's web page.

JUPITER

 Evening sky E

Jupiter midmonth is at -2.5 magnitude and a diameter of 00°00'.43" located in the constellation Cancer visible after sunset in the east. Jupiter sets around 5:46 a.m.. On March 2nd the Moon and Jupiter are about six degrees apart. A small telescope will easily reveal four of Jupiter's largest and brightest moons. Check out Sky & Telescope's Jupiter Moons Utility for other configurations. Sky and Telescope Red Spot Calculator 

Jupiter midmonth around 8 p.m..

SATURN

  Morning sky SE

Saturn midmonth is at +0.4 magnitude and diameter 00°00'.17" rising around 1:00 a.m. in the southeast. Saturn is in the constellation Scorpius. Through a small telescope Saturn will reveal the famous rings of the planet. Rings currently are 25.0° tilt. See: Saturn's moons locations

Saturn and Moon 05°30'12" from each other looking SE on February 13th at 4:00 a.m. below.

URANUS

Evening Sky W

 Uranus midmonth is at 5.9 magnitude and diameter 00°00'.03" located in the western sky after sunset setting at 8:52 p.m.. A small telescope will reveal this event. See below image: Uranus is located in the constellation Pisces. A moderate-sized telescope will show it as a green-gray disk. See: Sky and Telescope location PDF. Courtesy: Sky and Telescope

The Moon and Uranus below after sunset at 5:48 p.m. just before occultation on February 21st. For details see link: Uranus Occultation

NEPTUNE 

Morning Sky E Lost in Sun's glare

Neptune is lost in the Sun's glare. Neptune will be visible mid April. A moderate-sized telescope will show it as a blue green disk. Neptune is located in the constellation Aquarius. See: Sky and Telescope location PDF. Courtesy: Sky and Telescope

Bright Asteroids

3 Juno

3 Juno at 8.2 magnitude is in the constellation Hydra.

Dwarf Planets

Pluto

 Pluto at midmonth is visible in the southwest right after sunset very low on the horizon and is amid the stars of the Milky Way in the constellation Sagittarius. Pluto is at magnitude +14.2 and diameter 00°00'.00"  A large telescope is needed to see this distant object.

COMETS

Comets Brighter than 8 Magnitude

Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy

Comet Lovejoy is reported at 6.3 magnitude as of March 29th. Visible after sunset to sunrise. The comet is in Cassiopeia.

For more on current Comets and locations see: Seiichi Yoshida web site here.

METEOR SHOWERS

Lyrids

The Lyrids increase as they become active in April during April 18th through the 25th, with a maximum on the 23rd. Possible meteors per hour is around 7-10

See: Listen to Meteors , American Meteor Society, Meteors Online also NASA All Sky Network

Some local links below to Heavens Above satellite information website.

Satellites Visible from York

Satellites visible from Hanover

Satellites visible from Gettysburg

Satellites visible from Lancaster

Satellites visible from Baltimore

Satellites visible from Harrisburg

Also see: Spaceflight NASA

 The Sun

Real time solar wind dials are linked live to the ACE Spacecraft.

 If the dial on the left (Magnetic Field) has dipped below zero, the speed is high and the dial dynamic pressure is in the yellow/red, be alert for Aurora. Anytime the gauges are in the Red and the dial on the left, the Magnetic Field BZ has dipped to the yellow-red... Aurora will be occurring in our area. See link to solar wind gauge here: REAL TIME SOLAR WIND

See explanation of  solar wind dials below by clicking on photo of dials

   

Use your hand to find degrees

NASA Night Sky Network Planner

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Download a free starmap at: Skymaps

Make your own starmap at: Star Finder

Download a free Planetarium for your computer at: Stellarium or Hallo Northern Sky Stellarium has many extra features.

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