Posted by on Feb 19, 2022 in Main |

This month will give you a few reasons to celebrate. Spring is on its way. On the 20th we have the vernal equinox. After that date the days become longer than the nights. This is followed on the 27th of March when British summer times stars and it will be around 8 pm before it becomes dark.

The constellations:-

The evening sky is transitioning to the stars and constellations that will adorn the heavens for the next few months. So, if you are a fan of Orion and its retinue, get your looks in fast, because those stars will be all but gone by the end of April. Of his retinue, only Capella, Procyon and Gemini are reasonably high up. Ursa Major is practically overhead. Cassiopeia is low in the northern sky, with Vega in the east. The southern sky is dominated by the constellation of Leo, while the brightest star on view is the glorious orange coloured Arcturus, in the constellation of Bootes. The Milky Way is not as conspicuous as in winter.

The Planets:-

There are no bright planets in the sky almost all night long. Only URANUS, at magnitude +5.8. It is just about visible to the naked eye. This distant world lies in Aries, and sets about 1030pm.

If you want to see the other Solar System worlds you will have to wake early when at 4.30am Venus rises in the south east. The Morning Star blazes at a brilliant magnitude of –4.4. It reaches its maximum separation from the Sun on 20th March. Using a low power telescope you will see it as a thick crescent, which broadens as the month progresses and becomes exactly half illuminated on 21st of the month.

Mars is below and to the right of Venus, and over a hundred times fainter at magnitude +1.1. Lying in Capricornus, the Red Planet rises around 5am.

For the first few nights of March, Mercury at magnitude –0.1, lies well to the left of Venus and Mars. Low in the dawn twilight it rises just after 6am. Just above the innermost planet is Saturn, at magnitude +0.8. As the month progresses, Mercury sinks from view and Saturn moves upward in the sky.

Mid month, Saturn is rising at 5.30am. Located in Capricornus. By the last week of March Saturn is near both Venus and Mars with the two fainter planets completing a triangle below the Morning Star.

Both Jupiter and Neptune are lost in the Sun’s glare this month.

On 8th March the almost first quarter Moon lies near the Pleiades star cluster, with Aldebaran to the left.

The phases of the Moon:-

New Moon 2nd March
First quarter 10th March
Full Moon 18th March
Last quarter 25th March