Astronomy Info & Events - March

Moon Phases

March 1 Full Moon (Full Worm Moon)
March 9 Last Quarter Moon
March 17 New Moon 
March 24 First Quarter Moon
March 31 Full Moon (Second Blue Moon of 2018!)

Special Events

March

International Space Station (ISS) Observable Passes

Look for passes of the ISS during the pre-dawn hours from March 1 to 18.  From March 23 onwards, the ISS visible passes move to our early evening sky.   Exact times of these passages for your location can be found by visiting the website http://www.heavens-above.com or by using satellite tracking smart phone apps like Sputnik.

March 10: The rings of Uranus discovered 41 years ago.

March 12: Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) Edmonton Centre meeting. 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. in the IMAX theatre at the TELUS World of Science.
Free to attend. See http://www.edmontonrasc.com for more details.

March 15: Mercury at greatest eastern elongation (18 degrees away from the Sun). This is the best evening appearance of Mercury for northern latitude observers this year!

March 20: The Spring (Vernal) Equinox takes place at 10:15 a.m. MDT

March 24: Earth Hour (8:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. local time). See www.earthhour.org.

Planets

Mercury slowly emerges out of the Sun’s glare early in the month, joining Venus above the western horizon after sunset.  Mercury will appear closest to Venus after sunset on March 3.  After March 3, both Mercury and Venus will chase each other within the constellation of Pisces, the fish, until Mercury reaches it point of greatest eastern elongation on March 15, making for another nice pairing of Mercury with Venus after sunset from March 19 to 22.  After sunset on March 18 look for the slim waxing crescent Moon to the left of the bright planet Venus which itself is to the left of the fainter planet Mercury above the western horizon! 

Venus is found shining brightly along the western horizon at sunset.  It is seen near Mercury for most of the month, until it speeds away from the sinking planet Mercury around March 21.  Venus continues to gain elevation in our western sky for the rest of the month, with Venus then remaining in our western, post sunset sky, until late August.  On March 28 Venus will be in the same area of the sky where Uranus is located.  A telescope will be needed to see this close conjunction of these two worlds.

Mars is seen rising in the southeastern sky during the pre-dawn hours and by sunrise will be located low in the southern sky.  Mars is found within the constellation of Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer, from the start of March until March 11.  It then moves and stays within the constellation of Sagittarius, the archer, for the rest of the month.  During the month you can watch Mars move eastward along the starry sky until it meets up with the planet Saturn by the end of the month. Keep watching Mars over the next few months to see it continue to brighten in our evening sky for its July 26 opposition date!

Jupiter rises in the southeastern sky a little after midnight this month and stands about 18 degrees above the south-southeast horizon by sunrise.  The waning gibbous Moon is located just above Jupiter during the pre-dawn hours of March 6 and 7.  Jupiter is seen within the constellation of Libra, the scales, where it will remain for most of the year.

Saturn rises into the southeastern sky by around 5:00 a.m. local time and by sunrise is found low in the southern sky.  Saturn is located within the constellation of Sagittarius, the archer.  During March, watch how the red planet Mars encroaches upon Saturn until the two worlds are in close proximity to one another by the end of the month.