03 March 2010

Sky this month

This post is an attempt to cover some highlights of the night sky of March 2010.


Mercury and Venus: The two inner planets Mercury and Venus will remain very hard to observe the whole month of March 2010. By the end of this month they can be observed with difficulty in the evening sky. Planet Venus will continue to climb higher in the months to come.

Mars: Mars is shining bright at a magnitude of -0.6 in the constellation of Cancer. The red planet appears as one of the brightest stars high in the eastern sky after sunset. As the earth is moving away from Mars, Mars will fade in the days to come. It will be Mag +0.2 by the end of the month and will continue to fade in the months to come.

Jupiter: Jupiter was at conjunction on 28th of Feb which means, it will not be visible this whole month. Jupiter will be visible next month in the morning sky. Jupiter is currently located in the constellation Aquarius.

Saturn: Saturn is the most beautiful object as seen from a small telescope. Saturn with its rings is a treat to the eyes. Saturn is currently located in the constellation Virgo. Beginning this month it rises by about 8PM. Saturn will be at opposition on 21st of this month when it will shine at a magnitude of +0.5. By the end of this month, Saturn will be visible all night.

Uranus: Uranus is going to be pretty low in the western sky and will not be visible this month.

Neptune: Neptune continues to be in the constellation Capricorn and will be visible through a telescope before sunrise in the eastern sky.

Moon: The calender for the moon is as follows.
Last Quarter New Moon First Quarter Full Moon
2010/03/07 15:43 2010/03/15 21:02 2010/03/23 11:01 2010/03/30 02:26
If you are new to the fascinating hobby of watching the sky, moon could be used as a pointer to identify some prominent stars and planets.
Mar 3rd: Moon 3 degree away from Spica at 11:30 PM (Spica is the brightest star in Virgo)
Mar 7th: Moon near Antares in the morning sky (Antares is the brightest star in Scorpius)
Mar 25th: Moon 5 degree away from Mars
Mar 29th: Moon near Saturn

Astronomy Activities in Mar 2010:
Mar 13: Mar 13th is a good day for Messier Marathon. Charles Messier was a French astronomer and comet hunter who catalogued 110 deep sky objects. Messier Marathon is an attempt to catch all the Messier objects (catelogued as M1 to M110) in one night. Normally Messier Marathons are conducted in the month of March (when sun will be located in a favorable position away from most of the Messier objects) near new moon day.

Mar 20: Vernal Equinox - is the day when sun rays fall directly on the equator.

Comets and Asteroids:
Comet 81P/Wild2 -> Visible through small telescopes in the constellation Virgo.
Asteroid 4Vesta -> Visible through binoculars and small telescopes in the constellation of Leo near the sickle of Leo. Vesta is quite bright at a magnitude of +6.8 due to its big size and highly reflective surface.

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