March Celestial Calendar by Dave Mitsky
All times, unless otherwise noted, are UT (subtract five hours and, when appropriate, one calendar day for EST and four hours for EDT as of March 12th)
3/2 Venus is 0.5 degrees north of Jupiter at 11:00
3/3 The Moon is 1.7 degrees south of the first-magnitude star Pollux (Beta Geminorum) at 3:00; the Moon is at apogee, subtending 29' 26" from a distance of 405,889 kilometers (252,207 miles), at 18:00
3/7 Full Moon (known as the Crow, Lenten, and Sap Moon) occurs at 12:40
3/8 Mercury is at its greatest heliocentric latitude south today
3/11 The Moon is at the descending node at 8:53
3/12 Daylight Saving Time (DST) begins today
3/14 Venus is at the ascending node today; the Moon is 1.6 degrees north of the first-magnitude star Antares (Alpha Scorpii) at 1:00
3/15 Last Quarter Moon occurs at 2:08; the Lunar X (the Purbach or Werner Cross), an X-shaped clair-obscure illumination effect involving various rims and ridges between the craters La Caille, Blanchinus, and Purbach, is predicted to be visible at 18:19
3/16 Neptune is in conjunction with the Sun at 0:00
3/17 Mercury is in inferior conjunction at 11:00
3/19 Mars is at its northernmost declination (25.6 degrees) at 0:00; the Moon is 4 degrees south of Saturn at 15:00; the Moon is at perigee, subtending 32' 57" from a distance of 362,697 kilometers (225,369 miles), at 15:12
3/20 The northern hemisphere vernal equinox occurs at 21:24
3/21 The dwarf planet/asteroid 1 Ceres (magnitude +6.9) is at opposition in Coma Berenices at 8:00; New Moon (lunation 1240) occurs at 17:23
3/22 The Moon is 0.5 degrees south of Jupiter, with an occultation occurring in the southeastern Caribbean, southern Central America, the northern half of South America, the Galapagos Islands, and easternmost Polynesia at 20:00
3/24 The Moon is at the ascending node at 2:08; the Moon is 0.1 degrees south of Venus, with an occultation occurring in the Philippines, the southern half of Asia, Pakistan, the southern and eastern portions of the Arabian Peninsula, Madagascar, and southern and eastern Africa, at 10:00
3/25 The Moon is 1.5 degrees north of Uranus at 1:00
3/26 The Moon is 1.9 degrees south of the bright open cluster M45 (the Pleiades or Subaru) in Taurus at 0:00
3/27 Mercury is at the ascending node today
3/28 The Moon is 2 degrees north of Mars at 13:00
3/29 First Quarter Moon occurs at 2:32; the Lunar X (the Purbach or Werner Cross), an X-shaped clair-obscure illumination effect involving various rims and ridges between the craters La Caille, Blanchinus, and Purbach, is predicted to be visible at 5:12
3/30 Mars is 1.2 degrees north of the bright open cluster M35 in Gemini at 5:00; the Moon is 1.6 degrees south of the first-magnitude star Pollux (Beta Geminorum) at 10:00
3/31 Mercury is at perihelion today; Venus is 1.3 degrees north of Uranus at 6:00; the Moon is at apogee, subtending 29' 31" from a distance of 404,917 kilometers (251,605 miles), at 11:17
Titan, Saturn’s largest satellite, was discovered on March 25, 1655 by the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens. The English astronomer Edward Pigott discovered the spiral galaxy M63 (the Black Eye Galaxy) on March 23, 1779. The English astronomer Sir William Herschel discovered Uranus on March 13, 1781. The grand design spiral galaxy M101was discovered by the French astronomer Pierre Méchain on March 27, 1781. Asteroid 2 Pallas was discovered by the German astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Matthias Olbers on March 28, 1802. Asteroid 4 Vesta was discovered by Heinrich Wilhelm Matthias Olbers on March 29, 1807. The first photograph of the Moon was taken on March 23, 1840. The Czech astronomer Luboš Kohoutek discovered Comet C/1973 E1 (Kohoutek) on March 7, 1973. The rings of Uranus were discovered on March 10, 1977. The Spanish amateur astronomer Francisco Garcia Diaz discovered supernova SN 1993 in the spiral galaxy M81 (Bode's Galaxy) on March 28th, 1993.
The zodiacal light should be visible in the western sky after evening twilight from dark locations for two weeks starting on March 9th.
The major meteor showers occurring this year are discussed at https://skyandtelesc...howers-in-2023/ and https://amsmeteors.o...hower-calendar/
Information on passes of the ISS, the USAF’s X-37B, the Tiangong, the HST, Starlink, BlueWalker 3, and other satellites can be found at http://www.heavens-above.com/
The Moon is 8.5 days old, is illuminated 64.4%, subtends 30.2 arc minutes, and is located in the constellation of Taurus at 0:00 UT on March 1st. The Moon attains its greatest northern declination for the month on March 2nd (+27.6 degrees) and on March 29th (+27.9 degrees. It reaches greatest southern declination on March 16th (-27.8 degrees). Longitudinal libration is at a maximum of +6.2 degrees on March 25th. It’s at a minimum of -6.3 degrees on March 13th. Latitudinal libration is at a maximum of +6.7 degrees on March 18th and a minimum of -6.7 degrees on March 4th and -6.8 degrees on March 31st. Favorable librations for the following lunar features occur on the indicated dates: Crater Lyot on March 1st, Crater Newton on March 5th, Lacus Veris on March 10th, and Crater Stokes on March 16th. New Moon occurs on March 21st. Large tides will take place thereafter. The Moon is at apogee on March 3rd and March 31st and at perigee on March 19th. The Moon passes near the bright open cluster M35 in Gemini at 8:00 on March 1st, Jupiter on March 2nd, the first-magnitude star Castor in Gemini at 21:00 on March 3rd, the first-magnitude star Pollux at 3:00 on March 3rd, the bright open cluster M44 (the Beehive Cluster) in Cancer at 8:00 on March 4th, the first-magnitude star Regulus in Leo at 5:00 on March 6th, the first-magnitude star Spica in Virgo at 14:00 on March 10th, the first-magnitude star Antares in Scorpius at 2:00 on March 14th, Saturn at 18:00 on March 19th, Jupiter at 21:00 on March 22nd, Venus at 11:00 on March 24th, the bright open cluster M45 (the Pleiades) in Taurus at 2:00 on March 26th, Mars at 14:00 on March 28th, the bright open cluster M35 in Gemini at 15:00 on March 28th, the first-magnitude star Castor in Gemini at 4:00 on March 30th, the first-magnitude star Pollux in Gemini at 10:00 on March 30th, and the bright open cluster M44 (the Beehive Cluster) in Cancer at 15:00 on March 31st. See https://astronomy.co...ay--on-the-moon for an article on these and other lunar clair-obscur events. From certain parts of the world, the Moon occults Jupiter on March 22nd and Venus on March 24th. Browse http://www.lunar-occ...ota/iotandx.htm for information on these and other lunar occultation events. Visit https://saberdoesthe...does-the-stars/ for tips on spotting extreme crescent Moons and http://www.curtrenz.com/moon06.html for Full Moon data. Go to https://skyandtelesc...ads/MoonMap.pdf and https://celestron-si...RReeves-web.pdf and https://nightsky.jpl...ObserveMoon.pdf for simple lunar maps. Click on https://astrostrona.pl/moon-map/ for an excellent online lunar map. The “daily” lunar maps at https://www.dereksco...telescope-view/ are also very good. Visit http://www.ap-i.net/avl/en/start to download the free Virtual Moon Atlas. Consult http://time.unitariu...moon/where.html for current information on the Moon and https://www.fourmila.../lunarform.html for information on various lunar features. Click on https://svs.gsfc.nas...p_YouTubeHD.mp4 for a remarkable lunar phase, libration, and position angle graphic for 2023. Go to https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/5048 for a lunar phase and libration calculator and https://quickmap.lro...2vIBvAXwF1SizSg for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Quickmap. Click on https://www.calendar...ndar/2023/March for a lunar phase calendar for this month. Times and dates for the lunar crater light rays predicted to occur this month are available at http://www.lunar-occ...o/rays/rays.htm
The Sun is in Aquarius on March 1st at 0:00 UT. It crosses the celestial equator at 22:24 UT on March 20th, bringing spring to the northern hemisphere. At the time of the equinox, the Sun is located in Aries and has a longitude of zero degrees.
Brightness, apparent size, illumination, distance from the Earth in astronomical units, and location data for the planets and Pluto on March 1st: Mercury (magnitude -0.5, 5.0", 93%, 1.34 a.u., Capricornus), Venus (magnitude -3.9, 12.2", 86%, 1.37 a.u., Pisces), Mars (magnitude +0.4, 8.2", 90%, 1.14 a.u., Taurus), Jupiter (magnitude -2.1, 34.2", 100%, 5.77 a.u., Pisces), Saturn (magnitude +0.9, 15.4", 100% illuminated, 10.79 a.u., Aquarius), Uranus (magnitude +5.8, 3.5", 100% illuminated, 20.27 a.u. on March 16th, Aries), Neptune (magnitude +8.0, 2.2", 100% illuminated, 30.91 a.u. on March 16th, Aquarius), and Pluto (magnitude +14.5, 0.1", 100% illuminated, 35.28 a.u. on March 16th, Sagittarius).
In the evening, Mars can be seen in the southwest and Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Uranus in the west. At midnight, Mars is located in the west. In the morning sky, Saturn is in the east.
The angular distance between Venus and Jupiter increases from 0.5 to 28.5 degrees during March.
A summary on the planets for March can be found at https://solarsystem....ching/whats-up/
The bright planets in the March sky are discussed at https://earthsky.org...saturn-mercury/
The graphic at https://www.timeandd...lanets/distance displays the apparent and comparative sizes of the planets, along with their magnitudes and distances, for a given date and time.
The rise and set times and locations of the planets can be determined by clicking on https://www.timeandd...stronomy/night/
The graphic at https://www.astrolea...copes85x 11.pdf compares the apparent sizes of the bright planets to that of the Moon.
The article at https://britastro.or...-size-of-things discusses the sizes and distances of the planets of the solar system and a number of other celestial bodies in terms of a scale model.
Basic astronomical data such as sunrise and sunset times, morning and evening twilight times, moonrise and moonset times, the phase of the Moon, which naked-eye planets are visible in the evening and morning skies, rise and set times for each of them can be found at https://skyandtelesc...-coms-almanac/#
Another online data generator for various astronomical events is available at https://astronomynow.com/almanac/
A guide to planetary observing for the year by the British magazine The Sky at Night is posted at https://www.skyatnig...nets-night-sky/
An article on the planets that are visible in the morning sky this year can be seen at https://drive.google...09IK7rBkqB/view
For more on the planets and how to locate them, browse http://www.nakedeyeplanets.com/
Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) glides from Taurus into Eridanus this month. The fading comet passes within 10 arc minutes of the spiral galaxy NGC 1637 on the evening of March 10th. Visit http://cometchasing.skyhound.com/ and http://www.aerith.ne...t/future-n.html and https://cobs.si/ for additional information on these and other comets visible this month. A list of the closest approaches of comets to the Earth is posted at http://www.cometogra.../nearcomet.html
The dwarf planet/asteroid 1 Ceres has close encounters with a number of galaxies as it travels northwestward through Coma Berenices during March. It passes 5 arc minutes north of M91 on March 11th, 32 arc minutes northeast of M88 on March 14th, 4 arc minutes northeast of NGC 4421 on March 21st, and 2.2 arc minutes north of M100, close enough to be mistaken for a supernova in the galaxy, on March 26th. Ceres (magnitude +6.9) reaches opposition on March 21st. An article and finder chart can be found on pages 48 and 49 of the March issue of Sky & Telescope. Asteroid 2 Pallas heads northeastward through Canis Major and Monoceros this month. It passes several degrees to the west of the open cluster M50 on March 16th. Asteroid 760 Massinga (magnitude +10.9) reaches opposition in Leo on March 3 rd. Consult http://asteroidoccul.../2023_03_si.htm for information on asteroid occultation events taking place this month. Visit http://www.curtrenz.com/asteroids.html to learn more about a number of asteroids.
A wealth of information on solar system celestial bodies is posted at http://nineplanets.org/ and https://www.curtrenz.../astronomy.html
Information on the celestial events transpiring each week can be found at http://astronomy.com/skythisweek and http://www.skyandtel...ky-at-a-glance/
A monthly podcast on various astronomical topics is available at https://www.skyandte...ronomy-podcasts
The Astronomical League’s graphic for navigating the spring sky is posted at https://www.astrolea...ngSky8_5x11.pdf
Free star charts for the month can be downloaded at http://www.skymaps.com/downloads.html and http://whatsouttonight.com/
The famous eclipsing variable star Algol (Beta Persei) is at a minimum, decreasing in magnitude from 2.1 to 3.4, on March 3rd, 6th, 9th, 11th, 14th, 17th, 20th, 23rd. 26th, and 29th. Consult page 50 of the March 2023 issue of Sky & Telescope or the calculator at https://skyandtelesc...inima-of-algol/ to determine the times of the minima. The Demon Star is at minimum brightness for approximately two hours centered at 12:47 a.m. EST on March 6th, at 9:36 p.m. EST on March 8th, and at 12:22 a.m. EDT on March 29th. For more on Algol, see http://stars.astro.i.../sow/Algol.html and http://www.solstatio...ars2/algol3.htm
Data on current supernovae can be found at http://www.rochester...y.org/snimages/
Tips on conducting a Messier Marathon can be found at https://www.messier....hon/mm2023.html and https://www.robhawley.net/mm/
Information on observing some of the more prominent galaxies in the Messier Catalog is available at http://www.cloudynig...ur-astronomers/
Finder charts for the Messier objects and other deep-sky objects are posted at https://freestarcharts.com/messier and https://freestarcharts.com/ngc-ic and https://www.cambridg...s_january-march
Telrad finder charts for the Messier Catalog and the SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC are posted at http://www.custerobs...cs/messier2.pdf and http://www.star-shin...ssierTelrad.htm and https://www.saguaroa...k110BestNGC.pdf
Steve Tonkin's The Binocular Sky Newsletter for March can be seen at https://binocularsky...r/BinoSkyNL.pdf
Author Phil Harrington offers an excellent freeware planetarium program for binocular observers known as TUBA (Touring the Universe through Binoculars Atlas) at http://www.philharrington.net/tuba.htm
Stellarium and Cartes du Ciel are useful freeware planetarium programs that are available at http://stellarium.org/ and https://www.ap-i.net/skychart/en/start
Deep-sky object list generators can be found at http://www.virtualcolony.com/sac/ and https://telescopius.com/ and http://tonightssky.com/MainPage.php
Freeware sky atlases can be downloaded at http://www.deepskywa...-atlas-full.pdf and https://www.cloudyni...ar-charts-r1021 and https://allans-stuff.com/triatlas/
Thirty binary and multiple stars for March: Struve 1173, Struve 1181, Struve 1187, Zeta Cancri, 24 Cancri, Phi-2 Cancri, Iota-1 Cancri, Struve 1245, Iota-2 Cancri, 66 Cancri, Struve 1327 (Cancer); Struve 1270, Epsilon Hydrae, 15 Hydrae, 17 Hydrae, Theta Hydrae, 27 Hydrae, Struve 1347, Struve 1357, Struve 1365 (Hydra); 3 Leonis, Struve 1360, 6 Leonis, Omicron Leonis (Leo); Struve 1274, Struve 1282, Struve 1333, 38 Lyncis, Struve 1369 (Lynx); h4046 (Puppis)
Notable carbon star for March: T Cancri (Cancer)
Thirty-five deep-sky objects for March: M44, M67, NGC 2775 (Cancer); Abell 33, M48, NGC 2610, NGC 2642, NGC 2811, NGC 2835, NGC 2855, NGC 2935, NGC 2992, NGC 3052, NGC 3078 (Hydra); NGC 2903, NGC 2916, NGC 2964, NGC 2968, NGC 3020 (Leo); NGC 2859, NGC 3003, NGC 3021 (Leo Minor); NGC 2683 (Lynx); NGC 2567, NGC 2571 (Puppis); M81, M82, NGC 2639, NGC 2654, NGC 2681, NGC 2685, NGC 2742, NGC 2768, NGC 2787, NGC 2841, NGC 2880, NGC 2950, NGC 2976, NGC 2985 (Ursa Major)
Top ten binocular deep-sky objects for March: M44, M48, M67, M81, M82, NGC 2571, NGC 2683, NGC 2841, NGC 2903, NGC 2976
Top ten deep-sky objects for March: M44, M48, M67, M81, M82, NGC 2654, NGC 2683, NGC 2835, NGC 2841, NGC 2903
Challenge deep-sky object for March: Abell 30 (Cancer)
The objects listed above are located between 8:00 and 10:00 hours of right ascension.