March 2006 Summary... Mar 9, 2006 21:29:29 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Mar 9, 2006 21:29:29 GMT -6
March Summary of Astronomical events
Subtract 6 hours for CST
Subtract 6 hours for CST
3/1 Mercury is 3.3 degrees north-northwest of the Moon at 4:00;
Uranus is in conjunction with the Sun at 11:00; the Moon is at the
ascending node (longitude 4.4 degrees) at 16:24
3/2 Mercury is stationary in right ascension, with retrograde
(westward) motion to follow, at 7:00; Asteroid 9 Metis at opposition
3/4 The Galilean satellite Ganymede reappears from eclipse at 5:44;
Ganymede is occulted by Jupiter at 8:38; Jupiter is stationary in
right ascension, with retrograde (westward) motion to follow, at 23:00
3/5 Mercury is at its greatest latitude north of the ecliptic (7.0
degrees) at 5:00; the Moon is 0.40 degree north-northeast of the
center of the bright open cluster M45 (the Pleiades) at 15:00
3/6 Mars is 2.9 degrees south-southeast of the Moon at 6:00; First
Quarter Moon occurs at 20:16
3/7 The north pole of the Sun is most inclined (7.25 degrees) away
from Earth today; a maximum lunar libration of 9.7 degrees occurs at
3/9 The Moon is 1.7 degrees south of the first magnitude star
Pollux at 20:00
3/10 Saturn is 3.8 degrees south-southwest of the Moon at 20:00
3/12 The Sun enters Pisces (ecliptic longitude 351.39 degrees) at
3:00; Mercury is in inferior conjunction with the Sun (3.55 degrees
north of the Sun) at 3:00; the Moon is 2.5 degrees north-northeast of
the first magnitude star Regulus at 23:00
3/13 The Moon is at apogee, subtending 29'25" from a distance of
406,278 km, at 2:00
3/14 A minimum lunar libration of 2.1 degrees occurs at 19:00; Full
Moon (known as the Crow, Lenten, and Sap Moon) occurs at 23:35 - a
penumbral lunar eclipse begins at 21:22 and ends at 2:14
3/15 The Moon is at the descending node (longitude 184.3 degrees) at
3/17 The Moon passes 0.31 degree north of the first magnitude star
Spica at 11:00 - an occultation occurs in the Hawaiian Islands and
the westernmost part of South America
3/19 Jupiter is 5.0 degrees north-northeast of the Moon at 10:00
3/20 The vernal equinox (i.e., the moment that the Sun crosses the
celestial equator and enters the celestial northern hemisphere)
occurs at 18:25
3/21 Asteroid 4 Vesta (magnitude 7.7) passes as close as 42' north of
Epsilon Geminorum tonight; the Moon passes 0.35 degree southwest of
the first magnitude star Antares at 3:00 - an occultation occurs in
the northeastern South America and southern South Africa
3/22 A maximum lunar libration of 9.9 degrees occurs at 7:00; the
Moon is at its southernmost position (declination -28.72 degrees)
until 2025 at 17:00; Last Quarter Moon occurs at 19:11
3/24 Mercury is stationary in right ascension, with direct (eastward)
motion to follow, at 12:00
3/25 Venus is at its greatest western elongation (46.5 degrees) at
7:00; the Sun is at the same longitude as the ascending node of the
Moon (4.6 degrees) - the theoretical middle of the eclipse season -
at 9:00; the Moon is 0.73 degree north-northwest of asteroid 1 Ceres
at 11:00 - an occultation occurs in northwest South America, central
and east North America, Great Britain, and western Europe
3/26 Venus is 5.5 degrees north-northwest of the Moon at 3:00;
Neptune is 3.6 degrees north-northwest of the Moon at 3:00; Venus
(magnitude -4.4) is 1.8 degrees north-northwest of Neptune (magnitude
8.0) at 12:00
3/27 Uranus is 1.3 degrees northwest of the Moon at 17:00 - an
occultation occurs in part of Antarctica; Mercury, Uranus, and the
Moon lie within a 2.12 degree diameter circle at 18:00; Mercury is
2.1 degrees northwest of the Moon at 19:00; Mercury (magnitude 1.0)
is 1.5 degrees north-northeast of Uranus (magnitude 5.9) at 23:00
3/28 The Moon is at perigee, subtending 33'16" from at distance of
359,167 km, at 7:13; Mercury is at the descending node at 15:00; a
minimum lunar libration of 1.2 degrees occurs at 16:00
3/29 The Moon is at the ascending node (longitude 4.3 degrees) at
3:29; a double shadow transit by Io and Ganymede begins at 5:53; a
total solar eclipse, the 29th eclipse of Saros series 139, begins at
8:36 and ends at 11:48; New Moon (lunation 1030) occurs at 10:15;
Pluto is stationary in right ascension, with retrograde (westward)
motion to follow, at 11:00
Times and dates for the lunar light rays predicted to occur this
month are available at www.lunar-
A penumbral lunar eclipse takes place on the evening of March 14.
Mid-eclipse occurs at 6:47 p.m. EST. During the eclipse, the Moon
does not pass through the Earth's dark umbra, a situation that won't
reoccur until August 29, 2053.
Some two weeks later a total solar eclipse begins in Brazil and ends
in Siberia. A partial solar eclipse is visible throughout Europe
with the path of totality cutting northward across Africa, the
eastern Mediterranean, and central Asia. Totality lasts a maximum of
4 minutes 7 seconds. The instant of greatest eclipse occurs at
5:11:18 a.m. EST.
Look for the zodiacal light in the western sky after sundown from
dark sites in early March.
The planets on March 1: Mercury (0.3 magnitude, 8.4", 27%
illuminated), Venus (-4.5 magnitude, 33.8", 35% illuminated), Mars
(0.7 magnitude, 7.0", 89% illuminated), Jupiter (- 2.2 magnitude,
39.4", 99% illuminated), Saturn (-0.1 magnitude, 20.0", 100%
illuminated), Uranus (5.9 magnitude, 3.3", 100% illuminated), Neptune
(8.0 magnitude, 2.2", 100% illuminated), and Pluto (13.9 magnitude,
0.1", 100% illuminated).
Morning planets: Venus, Neptune, and Pluto
Evening planets: Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn
Mercury drops towards the Sun and is no longer visible by March 6.
It enters the morning sky during the last week of March.
Venus rises in the east-southeast about two hours before the Sun. It
reaches a 50% illuminated state known as dichotomy on March 25.
By month's end, Mars fades to a magnitude that matches that of
Aldebaran (magnitude 0.9) some 15 degrees to the south.
Located in Libra, Jupiter rises around 9:00 p.m. EST at the end of
March, when it will be positioned about 30 degrees above the horizon
at 1:00 a.m. EST.
Saturn is still situated in Cancer. It travels approximately 3
degrees to the west of M44, the Beehive Cluster, before returning to
an easterly course. Saturn's magnificent rings are tilted at 20
degrees for the final time this decade. Titan (magnitude 8.4),
Saturn's largest and brightest satellite, is located north of the
planet on March 5 and March 21. It is south of Saturn on March 13
and March 29. The enigmatic Iapetus shines at magnitude 10.1 when it
reaches greatest western elongation during the second week of the
month. Iapetus is close to Titan on March 29.
Uranus is not observable this month.
Neptune is visible in the morning sky with difficulty. Venus passes
2 degrees north of Neptune on the mornings of March 26 and March 27.
Pluto lies in the southern sky at dawn.
Asteroid 4 Vesta is located to the north of Epsilon Geminorum. The
third largest minor planet fades from magnitude 7.4 to 7.8 as it
tracks eastward during March.
Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 may reach a brightness of ninth
magnitude as it tracks on an easterly course to the south of the
first magnitude star Arcturus.
Comet C/2005 E2 (McNaught) leaves Pisces and enters Aries this
month. On the night of March 22, the tenth magnitude comet is
situated a few degrees north of the spiral galaxy M74 in Pisces.
Comet C/2006 A1 (Pojmanski) enters the northern hemisphere morning
sky in early March. Throughout the month, the comet travels on a
northeastern course from Aquila to Lacerta. It may brighten to fifth
magnitude, two magnitudes greater than originally predicted.