Every month, AY About You outlines the night sky in these easy-to-digest guides. And stargazing in March is another one for the books.
This month features local astrophotography from Arkansan Tony Milligan. You can find more of his spectacular photos on his website, Captured in Time.
Third Quarter: March 5
New Moon: March 13
First Quarter: March 21
Full Moon: March 28*
Sometimes considered the last full moon of winter, the March full moon is often called the Worm Moon for the earthworms that typically emerge this time of year.
No major meteor showers this month. Check back in April for the details on a shower that produces up to 20 meteors per hour.
Planets and Special Events
March 4: Asteroid 4 Vesta at Opposition
One of the largest objects in the asteroid belt, Vesta, will be directly opposite the sun in our sky this month, reaching its brightest magnitude of the year. Look to the constellation Leo, where Vesta will be well placed for observation all night.
March 6: Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation
Mercury reaches its farthest point from the sun in its February-March morning cycle this month, just a few days after climbing to an altitude of 14 degrees above the horizon. Look to the southeast just before sunrise.
March 12: C/2020 R4 (ATLAS) Reaches Brightest Point
The Comet C/2020 R4 will grace our skies this month, reaching its brightest point on March 12. Our first exposure to the comet will come in mid-March at about 20 degrees above the horizon, and it will continue to climb higher and be visible longer by the end of the month. Look to the southeast in the predawn sky.
March 27: Makemake at Opposition
The minor planet Makemake will arrive at opposition this month, making it a great time to view the object for those with binoculars or a telescope. Makemake is likely the second-largest object in the Kuiper belt, a region beyond Neptune. Look to the east at around 9 p.m. and watch it climb to its highest point, in the southern horizon, at around 2 a.m.
In the News
Nasa’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars at 20:55 GMT on 18 February after almost seven months traveling from Earth.
Since then, it has sent back some amazing images from around its landing site, Jezero Crater, a 49km (30-mile) wide impact depression just north of the Red Planet’s equator.
No public events this month. Stay home and stay well.
If you’re still itching for more space to curb your boredom this month, give Celestia and Stellarium a try. Both are free to use and provide unique and interactive experiences with the stars, planets and more.
The best stargazing results are always going to be under the darkest of skies. So, if you can, find a place as far away from city lights as possible when stargazing in January.