Now it is time to welcome March and hopefully spring. The March equinox on the 20th or 21st marks the astronomical beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere and the beginning of autumn in the southern hemisphere.
Leo on is in the southern sky at around about 11pm. Orion and Taurus are starting to move out of the sky, and with Leo being one of the main spring time constellations, signalling the end of the winter night sky. Leo has an iconic shape that is easy to recognise. The lion’s mane and shoulders form an asterism known as “the Sickle,” which to modern observers may resemble a backwards “question mark.”
We can also see Hydra, the largest constellation in the sky at this time, measuring 1303 square degrees. It is also one of the longest at over 100 degrees. Despite its size, Hydra contains only one reasonably bright star, Alphard, designated Alpha Hydrae. It is an orange giant with a magnitude 2.0, 177 light-years from Earth. Its traditional name means “the solitary one”. Beta Hydrae is a blue-white star of magnitude 4.3, 365 light-years from Earth. Gamma Hydrae is a yellow giant star of magnitude 3.0, 132 light years from Earth.
Hydra is commonly said to represent a water snake or a multi-headed mythological monster.
Spring is here! Spring is here! On 20th March we will have the March Equinox. The March equinox marks the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator, the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator, from south to north. Conventional wisdom suggests that on the equinox everybody on Earth gets to experience a day and night of equal lengths, 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of equal lengths, 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours commence British summer time.
Venus starts the month as the resplendent Evening star at magnitude –4.4, but by the months end it will disappear from the dusk sky to reborn as the Morning star. For a few nights before 25th of the month, you can see Venus both low in the sunset sky and in the morning rising shortly before the Sun.
Its place in the dusk twilight during the final week of this month will be taken by Mercury. Putting on its best evening appearance of the year. Shining at magnitude –0.5 and lower in the sky than Venus has been. You will locate it after 8pm near the western horizon.
Mars is hanging around higher in the evening sky, setting at 9.45pm. The red planet is shinning at magnitude +1.4 in Aries.
Shining ay magnitude +5.9 Uranus lies in Pisces. Mars will be nearby in early March and Mercury on the 25th of the month. At the months end Uranus will have dropped below the horizon.
Jupiter is in Virgo, after 8.30pm, shinning at magnitude –2.2.
Saturn will be located in Sagittarius after 2am, with a magnitude of +0.5
Phases of the Moon
First Quarter 5th, Full Moon 12th, Last Quarter 20th, New Moon 28th,