||March Skywatch Highlights|
|Date / Time:
||The solar system's two largest planets, Jupiter & Saturn, are the only ones visible in a dark sky this month.
Dazzling JUPITER dominates the evening sky as darkness falls. Throughout March, the gas giant gleams brilliantly in central Taurus, between the Pleiades star cluster (M45) & Aldebaran, the red-giant star seen as the "eye of the bull." Look for Jupiter high in the west at dusk. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Larger scopes will reveal Jupiter's dark equatorial belts, (one on either side of a brighter equatorial zone), the giant red spot, & other dynamic surface features.
As Jupiter sinks low in the west, SATURN rises in the east., Saturn rises at 11PM in early March, and by 9PM at the end of the month. It shines at magnitude 0.3 in mid-March & is one of the brightest object in the sky. The Ringed Planet lies among the background stars of western Libra, less than 20 degrees east of Spica, Virgo's brightest star.
Saturn forms a near right triangle with Spica (to the west) & Arcturus (to the north).
Notice Saturn's golden hue compared to blue-white Spica & yellow-orange Arcturus. Saturn's rings open wider than they've been since 2006, tilting at 19-degrees to our line of sight from Earth, & afford impressive views through even a small telescope.
Both VENUS and MARS, are lost in the Sun's glow this month . Venus will not return until it becomes an evening planet in early May. Mars won't return to our skies until it emerges as a morning planet in late June.
The Southern Cross, (Crux), is viewable EARLY morning this month. At mid-month, Crux rises high enough for viewing by 1AM. To view Crux, you'll need an unobstructed view to the southern horizon. At around 2AM Crux should be upright, very low on the southern horizon (nearly due South). Best viewing from 1AM until approx. 2:30AM. Look for 2 bright stars, Alpha & Beta Centauri, which "point" to the Cross to their right/west. At this time of morning, you should be able to see all the way from Polaris, (the North Star), to the bottom star in the Southern Cross, Acrux; (An important north-south navigational star-line, "Kaiwikuamo'o" ? the Backbone). Crux will be rising before midnight by the end of the month.
For a March Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium
Maintained by Roz Reiner - Kauai, Hawaii
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