This is a month of transition for the night sky, with the winter constellations appearing to the west while the spring constellations are becoming more noticeable in the east.
Ursa Major or The Plough will reach the overhead point next month but this month it is still to the east of it. As the Plough becomes higher in the sky, the ‘W’ of Cassiopeia is found lower down.
Using the Plough, follow the curve of the handle around and down and you will come to a bright orange star fairly high in the sky. This is Arcturus in the constellation of Bootes (the Herdsman). Arcturus is the brightest star in the spring sky. By continuing this curved line you will then reach a bright white star low down in the sky, thats Spica, in the constellation of Virgo (The Virgin).
This will be the last month when we get a chance to look at the winter constellations. The stars of Orion; plus Aldebaran and Seven Sisters in Taurus (the Bull) are now dropping towards the western horizon. Sirius the Dog Star is also now much lower in the sky. Meanwhile Castor and Pollux in Gemini (The Twins) together with Procyon in Canis Minor (The Small Dog) are still high in the south west. Replacing them we find Regulus in Leo (the Lion) and Spica in Virgo (The Virgin).
This month, Mars and Saturn rise after midnight so you will either have to wait up late or get up early in the morning to see them. Mars is distinctly orange/red, while Saturn is yellowish; both are close to the bright red star Antares in the constellation of Scorpio (The Scorpion). This constellation will be seen best in the evening sky during the summer months.
Jupiter, which dominates the night sky during spring and summer, looks like a bright white ‘star’ in the south east. As it is so bright, Jupiter is hard to miss.
On the morning of 2nd March, the Moon is above Saturn.
On 13th March in the evening, the crescent moon forms a triangle with Aldebaran and the Seven Sisters.
Phases of the Moon this month are, Last Quarter 1st and 31st, New Moon 9th, First Quarter 15th, Full Moon 23rd.
On the 20th of this month it will be the Spring Equinox, which is when the Sun lies on the celestial equator and the hours of daylight and darkness are equal. After this day becomes longer than night. On the 27th of March the clocks move forwards by an hour to British Summer Time.
Enjoy your observations.