Posted by on Feb 23, 2023 in Main |

The night sky over Ribblehead viaduct as images by Pete Collins @Dimond Skies

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 26th 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:-

The innermost plate is to close to the Sun for observation this month.

Low in the western sky after sunset, the month opens with the stunning sight of the two most brilliant planets up close and personal. Dominating the scene is Venus, at a magnificent magnitude of –4.0. On 1st March it is at it’s closest to Jupiter. As the gas giant drops down, Venus on the other hand rises ever higher into the darker night-time sky and remains visible until 11pm.

The red planet is in the constellation of Taurus. With a magnitude of +0.7 it is fading as the month progresses and it moves towards the constellation of Gemini. Mars sinks below the horizon around 2.30am.

At the beginning of March Jupiter is only 35 arc minutes from brilliant Venus. At magnitude –2.1 the gas giant is five times fainter than the evening star. Both planets fall below the horizon around 8.30pm. As the month progresses Jupiter; which is in the constellation of Pisces, drops down into the twilight glow and it’s lost to sight by the end of the month.

This month Saturn will be lost in the Sun’s glare and will be unsuitable for observation

Towards the end of this month, Venus will be in the vicinity of Uranus. With a magnitude of +5.8 it is hardly visible to the unaided eye. It can be found in the constellation of Aries and sets below the horizon around 11pm.

Distant Neptune is too close to the sun for observation this month.

Located low down in the south west in the constellation of Capricornus. At magnitude +14.5, this distance world rises about 4.45 am and will be visible until sunrise.

The largest object in the asteroid belt can be located in the constellation of Coma Berenices this month, at magnitude +6.9. It will be visible all night long.

Special Events:-

1st March – The two brightest planets have a very close encounter when Venus passes close to Jupiter.

20th March, 9.24pm – The spring equinox, when day and night are of equal length.

23rd March – There will be a stunning alignment of Venus (top), the crescent Moon (middle) and Jupiter (lowest) in the evening twilight.

24th March – The crescent Moon pairs up with Venus, the brilliant Evening Star, to make a fantastic evening duo.

26th March, 1am – British Summer Time starts. The clocks move forward one hour.

28th March – The almost half Moon lies next to Mars

The phases of the Moon:-

Full Moon 7th March
Last quarter 15th March
New Moon 21st March
First quarter 29th March