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March Skies-Get Out and Look!

From our own island Solar System Ambassador Gene Zajac!

The evening March sky has some great celestial objects to see! It gets dark before bedtime! This month the daylight hours increase 1 hour and 39 minutes. Sunset on March first is 6:22 pm. But we move our clocks ahead one hour in the early morning of March 20. Sunset on March 31st is 7:56 pm. I have listed the stars, planets and constellations for sunset but the sky darkens slowly. Astronomical twilight is when the sun is 12 to 18 degrees below the horizon. Watch the sunset and stick around for the nighttime show.

Moon phases for March include:
First Quarter on March 5
Full moon on March 12
Third Quarter on March 20
New moon on March 27

March 1st has a great sunset! The sun sets at 6:22. Look above where the sun sets in the West and see the bright planet Venus above the planet Mars and a thin waxing crescent moon. With binoculars or a telescope one could spot Uranus just a few degrees from Mars!
Look to the south and see the majestic Orion constellation. What looks like a sword below the left star in his belt is the Orion Nebula. Great for a telescope! Using the belt to point towards the horizon you will find the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius. Using the belt again and following in in the other direction, you will see Aldebaran in Taurus. It is part of a “v” which is the head of Taurus facing Orion. In the body you may see a closely grouped star cluster called the Pleiades. Six stars can be seen but a telescope or binoculars will bring many others into view. There is a necklace of stars surrounding Orion. Starting at the bright star Sirius, travel clockwise around Orion. Procyon(Canis Minor), Castor and Pollux ( both in Gemini), Capella (Auriga), Aldebaron (Taurus), Rigel (Orion) and back to Sirius Canis Major).
Leo will be rising in the eastern sky. These constellations and stars will be visible all of March. They rise 4 minutes earlier each day due to Earth’s orbit.
In the North we can find Polaris directly north at an altitude equal to your Earth’s latitude!  About 42 degrees on Put In Bay. The stars in the north will rotate around the pole star in a radius of 42 degrees. The Big Dipper is west of the North Star and will rise during the evening. On the eastern side of the North Star Cassiopeia will be setting. These two constellation are on opposite sides of Polaris. This rotation of these stars and constellations is a daily event.
Jupiter rises at 9:28 pm on March first. Saturn is. 3 am visitor to our sky.
By March 10 we have sunrise at 6:50 and sunset at 6:32.
Jump the clock ahead as I stated earlier on the 20th. Sunrise will be at 7:34 am and set at 7:43. On this evening Venus, Mercury and Mars closely follow the sun to the horizon. Mercury can be seen nearly directly east of Venus. Binoculars will help.
On March 30 the sunset is 7:54 with Mercury above the horizon and the crescent moon will be slightly to the left of Mars. Jupiter rises at 8:30 and the bright star Spica follows as Virgo is rising.
I hope this will help you enjoy the March skies.