Here is a quick look at what’s happening astronomically in March 2013. Mark your calendars.
Last Quarter Moon: March 4
New Moon: March 11
First Quarter Moon: March 19
Full Moon: March 27
Mars, Venus, and Mercury are all too close to the Sun to be seen
March 11: The Sun enters the astronomical constellation Pisces
- The Sun is on the celestial equator
- The Sun enters the astrological sign Aries
March 20: the vernal or spring equinox occurs at 5:01 MDT in the northern hemisphere and the autumnal or fall equinox in the southern hemisphere. The Sun will be above or north of the celestial equator from now until September 22.
No meteor shower this month
March 10: Start daylight saving time in the United States
March 10-12: Comet Pan-STARRS “should” be visible in the west shortly after sunset: Just how visible is very difficult to predict. As of February 26 the comet is predicted to be visible, but not noticeably bright. Hopefully Pan-STARRS will brighten up considerably, which it can do, as it passes close by the Sun.
- The comet will be very low in the west just above the mountains
- Start looking 15-20 minutes after sunset
- The comet will be visible for 20-30 minutes before itself sets
- The comet will be in the glare of the setting Sun making it harder to see
- The comet will be visible for several days so you have plenty of time to see it
- Binoculars will help (wait until the Sun has set before using binoculars)
- A telescope is not required
If we see Pan-STARRS it will be the first visible comet for the US since Comet Hale-Bopp in 1995. I will be updating readers on the comet with detailed information in March just before the comet becomes visible.
March 28: The Moon will be very close to the bright star Spica in the constellation Virgo. Look after mid-night (east) or in the pre-dawn sky (south west).
March 1st, 1966: The Soviet probe Venera 3 crashes onto the Venusian surface, the first man-made object on another planet.
March 31st, 1727: Sir Isaac Newton dies in London. A high amount of mercury was later found in his body.
Wishing you clear skies