BACKYARD STARGAZER: Coming this month: A Supermoon


By Francis Parnell

There are a number of close celestial pairings in March that will be fun to observe.
The full Moon on the 9th will be a Supermoon! It’s the largest and closest this year at 221,904 miles. Watch it rise behind distant trees or houses and experience the Moon illusion!
Looking southeast, 45 minutes before sunrise on the 18th, the waning crescent Moon, red Mars, and yellow Jupiter form a tight triangle, with yellow Saturn 7 degrees to the left of the trio.
At 11:50 p.m. on the 19th, the Sun is at the Equinox and spring officially begins in the northern hemisphere and Autumn in the southern hemisphere.
One hour before sunrise on the 20th, look southeast to spot brilliant Jupiter and red Mars in conjunction, less than 1 degree apart! Great sight with a telescope or binoculars.
At dusk on the 24th, Venus is at Greatest Elongation, 46 degrees east of the Sun. In a telescope it resembles a first quarter Moon.
An hour before sunrise on the 26th, observe bright Jupiter and yellow Saturn 7 degrees apart with Mars midway between them and slightly lower. The trio hasn’t been this close in 20 years!
Like a challenge? On the 26th at dusk, look west, find Venus, then look below along the twilight line to spot a very slim crescent Moon just 62 hours old.
At dusk on the 27th, the thin waxing lunar crescent is about 10 degrees to the lower left of bright Venus. On the 28th, the Moon is almost 10 degrees to the left of Venus.
One hour before sunrise on the 31st, catch Mars less than 1 degree south of Saturn! Another neat sight with a telescope or binoculars.
Enjoy spring and “Keep looking up!”

Author: Rachel Howell

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