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Looking Up: A Stargazer’s Guide to March 2017

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Looking Up: A Stargazer’s Guide to March 2017

Here’s a calendar of astronomical events happening in March 2017, including several planetary line ups, a full Moon, and the arrival of spring with the equinox.

All times Eastern, for the Northern Hemisphere:

March 1 – Look to the west to see the thin waxing crescent Moon and Venus after sunset.  Later, as darkness sets in, you’ll be able to make out Mars to the right of the Moon, less than 5 degrees, and Uranus beneath Mars.

March 2 – Look to the west at dusk to see Venus beneath the tiny waxing crescent Moon. As the skies darken, Mars will appear in between the two celestial bodies.

(Continued Below)

March 3 – The Moon is at perigee, which means that it is at the closest point to Earth in its cycle.

March 4 – We have another occultation of Aldebaran, the eye of Taurus the Bull, by the waxing Moon.  Aldebaran will disappear behind the dark side of the moon and reappear on the Moon’s bright side during the evening hours.

March 5 – First quarter Moon at 6:32 a.m. In this phase, the Moon looks like a half-Moon in the sky. One-half of the Moon is illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is increasing, on its way to full.

March 5 – See the Moon inside the Winter Circle – a large star configuration made of seven brilliant stars.

March 6 – Astronomy lover, meet Deneb, Vega, and Altair, the stars of the asterism the Summer Triangle. But wait – it’s spring? No worries, you can spot this celestial gem early almost all year. Look for it just below the Moon.

March 8 – Look to see the waxing gibbous Moon just 4 degrees from the Beehive Cluster (M44), also called Praesepe, the Manger.

March 10 – Although the waxing gibbous Moon will be bright, see if you can spot the star Regulus a mere 3 degrees from it. Regulus is one of the brightest stars in our sky, and is part of the constellation Leo, the Lion.

March 12 – The Full Worm Moon at 10:54 a.m. In this phase, the visible Moon is fully illuminated by direct sunlight. Though the Moon is only technically in this phase for a few seconds, it is considered “full” for the entire day of the event, and appears full for three days.

Watch this short Farmers’ Almanac video to see how this Moon got its many names: 

March 12 – Daylight saving time begins. Don’t forget to “spring ahead” one hour.

March 13 & 14 –  Look to the east a few hours after sunset to see the waning gibbous Moon pair up with the planet Jupiter. Not far away you can even spot the bright star Spica hugging the horizon.  Spica is the brightest star in the constellation Virgo.

March 18 – The Moon is at apogee, its farthest point from the Earth in its orbit.

March 20 – Last Quarter Moon at 11:58 a.m. In this phase, the Moon appears as a half Moon in the sky. One-half of the Moon is illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is decreasing, heading toward the “New” (invisible) phase.

March 20 – The Spring Equinox at 6:29 a.m.

March 26 – Look low to the western horizon one hour after sunset to see Mercury and Uranus paired up.

March 27 – New Moon at 10:57 p.m. In this phase, the Moon is not illuminated by direct sunlight and is completely invisible to the naked eye.

March 30 – Look to the western sky as darkness falls to see the the tiny waxing crescent Moon just eight degrees from Mars. Look low to the horizon and you might be able to spot Mercury with binoculars an hour after sunset.

March 30 – The Moon is at perigee, which means that it is at the closest point to Earth in its cycle.

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