Astronomical events of interest for March 2015


Stargazing events of interest for March 2015
 
The name March comes from Latin Martius. March was first month of the earliest Roman calendar. Named for Mars, the Roman god of war Martius was also the guardian of agriculture and an ancestor of the Roman people. Martius remained the first month of the Roman calendar year until around 153 BC. The American colonies continued to use March 25 as the beginning of the year until 1752, when the Gregorian calendar (our calendar) was adopted. Many cultures and religions still start the year in March.
 
This month’s full moon is commonly known as the Fish Moon. It has also been call the Sap Moon, Worm Moon, Lenten Moon, and Crow Moon. The Lakota Sioux called it the “Moon of Snow Blindness”. To the Zuni it was “Little Sandstorm Moon”. The San Juan called it the “Lizard Moon”. The Delaware called it the “Moon when the Juice Drips from the Trees”. The Taos call it “Wind Strong Moon”. To the Nez Perce it was the “Flower Time Moon”
 
Moon:
  • Full Moon: March 5  This month the exact opposite of a super moon
  • Farthest from Earth: March 5 (252,516 miles mini-size moon)
  • Last Quarter Moon: March 13
  • New Moon: March 20
  • Closest to Earth: March 19 (222,192 miles super-size moon)             
  • First Quarter Moon: March 27
 
Planets Visible:
 
Shortly (1 hour) after sunset:
  •  Mars and Venus (the brighter of the two) will be just above the southwest horizon for the month. Venus will be above Mars and moving further and further away from Mars during the month.
  • Jupiter will be visible in the east rising higher and higher. Look for the brightest star in the east and high in the south east by month’s end.
Morning before sunrise:
  • Saturn is visible in the south all month. Look for two bright stars. Saturn will be the brighter of the two sitting above and right of the star Antares, a red giant.
  • Mercury will be too close to the sun to be easily observed and goes behind the sun mid-month.
 
Sun:
  • March 1: Sunrise 6:33am MST, Sunset 6:50pm MST
  • March 12: Sun enters the astronomical constellation Pisces.
  • March 20: The Sun enters the astrological sign Aries.
  • March 31: Sunrise 6:46am MDT, Sunset 7:21pm MDT                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
 
Earth:
  • March 8: The US goes on Daylight Saving Time
  • March 20: The spring or vernal equinox occurs at 4:45pm MDT
 
Meteors:
  • No noticeable activity this month
 
Special Events:
  • All Month: Watch Venus and Mars move relative to each other on the western horizon one hour after sunset. Watch the distance between Venus and Mars increase during the month.
  • March 2 evening: A gibbous moon will be below of Jupiter. Look east after sunset.
  • March 4 morning: If you have a telescope and want to find Uranus, Venus will pass north northeast Uranus as close as .09 degrees (a full moon is .5 degrees).
  • March 9-10 morning: The Moon will be above of Spica the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo the virgin.
  • March 12 morning: The Moon will next to Saturn and above the bright star Antares in the constellation Scorpius the scorpion.
  • March 21 after sunset: a very thin crescent moon will be next to Mars. Should be a nice view in binoculars.
  • March 22 after sunset: a crescent moon will be next to Venus. Again, should be a nice view in binoculars.
  • March 25 evening: The Moon will be next to Aldebaran the brightest star (the bull’s eye) in Taurus the bull.
  • March 28 evening: Chamberlin Observatory Open House weather permitting. The observatory’s 20” telescope and telescopes belonging to members of the Denver Astronomical Society will be available for viewing. The event starts at 6:30 pm. Click here for more information.
 
Historical Trivia
  • March 31, 1727: Sir Isaac Newton dies in London. A high amount of mercury was later found in his body.
  • March 1, 1966: Soviet probe Venera 3 crashes on Venus, the first man-made object on another planet.
     

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