BACKYARD STARGAZER: Dazzling planet views in March

By Francis Parnell

In March we can observe several bright planets near the horizon – one at dawn, three at dusk.
On the 1st, look west about an hour after sunset to catch the brilliant sight of dazzling Venus and yellow Jupiter only one-half degree apart!  Binoculars, or a telescope at low power, will give an unforgettable view.
High in the southeast on the 2nd, the waxing gibbous Moon is about 1.5 degrees from Pollux, Gemini’s brightest star.
The slightly fatter gibbous Moon is in Leo, the Lion, on the 5th, and is 4 degrees left of Regulus, Leo’s brightest star.
One hour before sunrise on the 14th, look southeast to spot the last-quarter Moon 4 degrees left of the red supergiant Antares, the brightest star in Scorpius.
On the 20th, the Sun is on the equator and Spring begins in the northern hemisphere at 5:24 p.m. EDT.
At dusk on the 23rd the slim lunar crescent is 5 degrees below Venus, then slides by and hangs 6 degrees above it on the 24th.
High in the west on the 25th, the waxing crescent Moon is in Taurus, about 1.5 degrees left of the Pleiades.  Binoculars give a nice view.
At dusk on the 27th, look west to see a celestial line up of the Moon, with red Mars upper left and Venus lower right. Near the western horizon, Jupiter and Mercury are less than 1.5 degrees apart.
Distances in the sky are given in degrees.  Angular measure in the sky can be quickly estimated using the diagram and the fingers of an outstretched arm.  (Insert diagram)
Have fun measuring the sky and “Keep looking up!”

Author: Stephan Drew

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