March Planetary Observations


Not all are Naked Eye View able – we may need binoculars.


This screenshot view is from stellarium 2015 


Venus – if you have a really clear view of the south eastern horizon, you may catch a glimpse of mag -3.8 Venus during the first week of March just before sunrise. By the middle of the month it will be lost in the morning twilight. If you want a challenge, on the morning of 7th March look for the very thin Waning Crescent Moon above Venus

Mars – moving through Libra and into Scorpius, Mars rises in the south east just after midnight and remains visible in the morning sky until dawn. Throughout March, it doubles in brightness from mag +0.3 to mag -0.5. On 1st March, the Waning Gibbous Moon lies close to Mars. On 16th March, it passes within 9 arc minutes of the double star Graffias. Each of the stars is actually a triple star system, so Graffias consists of 6 stars when viewed through a telescope. With Mars so close, this will be a great photo opportunity! On 21st March, Mars passes south of Nu Scorpii. On 29th & 30th March, Mars once again lies close to the Waning Gibbous Moon and also Saturn Jupiter – reaches opposition on 8th March so it is visible all night long. Located in Leo and blazing at mag -2.3, it will be easy to spot. On 2nd March, Jupiter passes close to Sigma Leonis. On the nights of 20th, 21st & 22nd March the Waxing Gibbous Moon lies close to Jupiter, with them at their closest on 21st.

Saturn – at mag +0.5 and located in Ophiuchus, Saturn rises at around 1am. On 2nd March, the Waning Crescent Moon lies above Saturn. On 29th & 30th March, Saturn lies close to the Waning Gibbous Moon and Mars

Uranus – located in Pisces, it is visible low in the West after sunset. At mag +5.9 you will need binoculars or a small telescope to spot it. At the beginning of the month it sets at around 11pm, but as the month progresses it will be setting earlier, and will begin to be lost in the evening twilight by the end of March. On 10th March, the Waxing Crescent Moon lies below Uranus

Pluto – located in Sagittarius, Pluto rises at around 4am so you may just catch a glimpse of it before sunrise. However, at mag +14.2 you will need a moderate telescope in order to view it

Ceres – is not observable this month

Vesta – Located in Cetus, it is visible after sunset, low in the West. It sets at around 9:30pm at the beginning of the month, but it sets earlier as the month progresses. At mag +7.9 you will need binoculars or a small telescope to spot it. On 11th March the Waxing Crescent Moon lies to the right of Vesta. On the nights of 16th & 17th March, Vesta passes south of the stars 64 Ceti and Xi1 Ceti


NB: All of the above information is taken from Night Scenes 2016 by Paul L Money, Philips Stargazing 2016, Astronomy Now Magazine, Sky at Night Magazine, Stellarium, the BAA Comets Section website, and Seiichi Yoshida’s home page:


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