Posted by on Feb 23, 2024 in Main |

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The March night sky

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 31st of March when British summer times starts 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 planet puts on its best evening show of the year. The elusive planet will be low in the western twilight, below and to the right of Jupiter. Mercury starts the month at magnitude –1.2 and steadily fades to magnitude +0.3. On the 24th of the month Mercury will be at its greatest separation from the Sun.

This will be an unfavourable month for observing Venus, as it will be too close to the Sun.

The red planet will be too close to the Sun for observation this month.

The gas giant is resplendent in the early evening sky, its majesty enhanced by its location in a region of comparatively faint stars. At magnitude –2.1, Jupiter falls below the horizon around 10.30pm. On the 13th of this month the crescent Moon lies just to the right of Jupiter.

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

With a magnitude of +5.8 it is hardly visible to the unaided eye. It can be found in the constellation of Aries, between Jupiter and the Pleiades 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 4.50 am and will be visible until sunrise.

The largest object in the asteroid belt can be located in the constellation of Sagittarius this month, however it is below the horizon and not visible.


Comet 12P/Pons–Brooks is one of a handful of bright comets in the sky in 2024 that have got comet-chasers and astronomers talking.

First seen in 1812, and named for co-discoverers Jean-Louis Pons and William Brooks. This comet travels around the Sun every 71 years and was last seen in 1954.

12 P/Pons-Brooks is predicted to brighten from magnitude 7.1 to 5.2 throughout March, the latter value taking it close to naked-eye territory.

There’s a bit of cosmic balance at play too, because whereas C/2021 S3 PanSTARRS is best in the early morning sky, 12P is one comet that’s best in the evening sky.

Special Events:-

3rd March – The last quarter Moon is near the star Antares.

13th March – The crescent Moon lies just to the right of stunning Jupiter.

18th March – The half Moon is close to the twin stars in Gemini, Castor and Pollux.

21st March – The Moon is close to the Star Regulus in the constellation of Leo.

26th March – the almost full Moon is in the constellation of Virgo and near the bright star Spica.

31st March, 1am – British Summer Time starts. The clocks move forward one hour.

The phases of the Moon:-

Last quarter 3rd March

New Moon 10th March

First quarter 17th March

Full Moon 25th March