Another month of incredible astronomical events passed but unlike February, March will not be such an amazing month for stargazers. This news should not stop you from taking out your telescope and looking at the sky but unlike the previous months that set the bar high, nothing major will happen in March.
There are, however, plenty of marvelous sights to see that we will now discuss in our stargazing guide for this month. Here is what you shouldn’t miss in March.
See Mars and the Pleiades together on March 3
Is there a more famous star cluster than the Pleiades? They are always a beautiful sight to see but not as incredible as when accompanied by a planet. We saw this last year with Venus and now Mars will move in closer in one of the better astronomical events of March.
Already tonight, you can search for the Pleiades and Mars on the southwestern horizon but their closest pass will occur on March 3. Still, you will be able to see them close together for about a week from today.
See the close conjunction between Jupiter and Mercury on March 5
There will be a total of 19 planetary conjunctions in 2021 but one of the closest ones will happen in March. The major conjunction of the month can be observed on March 5 right before dawn. I recommend you bring out a pair of binoculars as this would give you the best chance to see this astronomical event.
You can find the two planets low on the eastern horizon. Mercury and Jupiter will be separated by only 0.3 degrees.
Moon Stages throughout March
Even with the absence of major astronomical events in March, the Moon will give us plenty of opportunities for pleasant sights and photographs.
• March 9 – Old Moon and Saturn – Look at the southeastern sky before dawn for a chance to see the old crescent moon close to Saturn. If you wait a little longer, Jupiter and Mercury may also be visible next to Saturn in a straight line left to the Moon.
• March 10 – Crescent Moon and Saturn and Jupiter – Following the sights on the previous morning, a new similar astronomical event will occur on March 10. This day, the Moon will be much closer to Jupiter and right below Saturn so pick up those binoculars and look southeast before dawn.
• March 11 – Mercury can be seen above the Moon – On the third morning of this sequence of celestial meetings, the Moon will have moved past Jupiter and will be found almost perfectly below Mercury. Once again, Jupiter and Saturn will be visible but much fainter than the previous days.
• March 16 – Moon and Uranus – Uranus is not a planet you often hear about but on March 16, it will be accompanying the Moon in a rare astronomical event. This time, however, you will have to look for the celestial objects right after sunset. Since the Crescent Moon will not shine as bright, Uranus should be visible on the above right. Both should appear in the field of view of a regular pair of binoculars.
• March 19 – Moon and Mars – Last but not least, Mars will meet the Moon in the southwestern sky after sunset on March 19. Once again, the pair should be visible with binoculars.
Return of the Big Dipper
There is a common misunderstanding that the Big Dipper is a constellation. The truth is that it is an asterism of seven stars within a constellation. What’s important is that it is one of the best-known shapes in the night sky and often one of the easiest to find. At least in spring and summer.
On an unobscured horizon, you can see it all year but if that is not the case, then you probably haven’t seen it recently. While this may not be an astronomical event like the ones we normally discuss, from March onward, you should be able to find it easily again every night.
Time to see the Milky Way
Spring and Summer give the best opportunities for shooting the Milky Way and it is about that time of the year already. In the northern hemisphere, Milky Way is mostly visible from March to September while in the southern parts of the world, the observation period is longer – from late February to October.
Observing the Milky Way is not only about the correct time of the year, it is also about the correct time of the day. Obviously, this can only happen at night and the best time to do it is between 00:00 and 5:00.
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