Spring is made ‘official’ this month with the Vernal Equinox on the 20th and don’t forget – clocks go forward on the 31st!
Planets on view in March…
The main planets visible this month are Jupiter and Saturn. The former dominates the night sky until about 1am. With binoculars or a telescope you should be able to see one (or more) of it’s four moons. After 10pm Saturn arrives in the sky which will appear in the east. It will not be as bright as Jupiter but it will still stand out as it will be surrounded by fainter stars.
The planets from last month, Venus, Mars, Uranus, Neptune and Mercury are all too close to the sun to be spotted during March.
Keep an eye out for….
The Pole star – aptly named ‘Polaris’. The Earth spins underneath this star , with the north pole pointing towards it. It remains stationary in the sky and is used by both astronomers and navigators as a fixed point.
To find Polaris you need to look out for specific constellations. Look for the plough which is in Ursa Major, the great bear. At the end of the Ursa Minor (the Lesser Bear) you will find Polaris.
If you look at the featured image from our January Star Gazing Guide you will note how the stars look like they are swirling around a centre point – this centre point is Polaris and the swirling stars are what’s knows as star-trails as they reveal the rotation of the earth.
Despite this star being a fixed point in the sky over a 26,000 year period the Earth’s axis actually swings around so our pole star will change with time. In 12,000 years time due to this shift our pole star will be Vega which is found in Lyra but pole stars of the past have included Kochab which is found in the Ursa Minor – this was the pole star in 1184BC, during the Trojan Wars.
An added Extra:
If you can find the Constellation of Cancer (which is often difficult in city lights) you will find in the centre what is called the Beehive Cluster, its official name is Praespe but it is a group of around 1000 stars around 600 light years away. This cluster is easily visible to the naked eye.
Also, don’t forget to put your clocks forward on the 31st – Remember ‘Spring Foward, Fall Back!’.
11th March – New moon
27th March – Full Moon.
We hope you have found this guide useful! If there is anything you would like us to add to the guide or to our star gazing coverage in general then please let us know!
We would also love some of your pictures of what you spot in the sky when your star gazing so we can put together a gallery at the end of the month of all the best pictures, feel free to email them firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us @wrexham.