What’s Up – March 2018

What’s Up For March?

Several Planets and the Zodiacal Light!

image

This month, at sunset, catch elusive Mercury, bright Venus, the Zodiacal Light, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter between midnight and dawn!

image

Both Venus and Mercury play the part of “evening stars” this month. At the beginning of the month they appear low on the western horizon.

image

The Moon itself joins the pair from March 18th through the 20th. 

image

The Moon skims by the Pleiades star cluster and Taurus’s bright red star Aldebaran on the next few evenings, March 21 through the 23rd.

image

Jupiter, king of the planets, rises just before midnight this month and earlier by month end. 

image

Even through the smallest telescope or average binoculars, you should see the 4 Galilean moons, Europa, Io, Callisto and Ganymede.

image

The March morning sky offers dazzling views of Mars and Saturn all month long.

image

Through a telescope, you can almost make out some of the surface features on Mars.

image

Look a little farther into Mars’ future and circle May 5th with a red marker. When our InSight spacecraft launches for its 6 month journey to the Red Planet, Mars will be easily visible to your unaided eye. 

image

Keep watching Mars as it travels closer to Earth. It will be closest in late July, when the red planet will appear larger in apparent diameter than it has since 2003!

image

You are in for a real treat if you can get away to a dark sky location on a moonless night this month – the Zodiacal Light and the Milky Way intersect! 

image

The Zodiacal light is a faint triangular glow seen from a dark sky just after sunset in the spring or just before sunrise in the fall.

image

The more familiar Milky Way is one of the spiral arms of our galaxy. 

image

What we’re seeing is sunlight reflecting off dust grains that circle the Sun in the inner solar system. These dust grains journey across our sky in the ecliptic, the same plane as the Moon and the planets.

Watch the full What’s Up for March Video: 

There are so many sights to see in the sky. To stay informed, subscribe to our What’s Up video series on Facebook.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com.