Dark Skies March 2022

10th: Moon at first quarter (figure 1). It will be 399082 km from Earth. Visible approximately 18:30 (GMT), above Southern horizon. Setting approximately 02:45. Appearing half illuminated.

Figure 1.

18th: Full Moon (figure 2). Visible most of the night, rising at dusk and settingat dawn. Approximately 376300 km from Earth. March full Moon is known as the Worm Moon. The last Full Moon of the winter season in March is the Worm Moon because of the earthworms that come out at the end of winter.

Figure 2.

20th: March Equinox (figure 3/4/5). In 2022 the time of the equinox will occur at approximately 15:33 (GMT). The Sun will be 148.97 million km from Earth. On the day of the equinox, everywhere on Earth has approximately 12 hours day and night, as the Sun's annual journey through the constellations of the zodiac carries it across the celestial equator. The word equinox, from Latin, aequus (equal) and nox (night).

Figure 3. Vernal  A Summer Solstice The Sun Winter Solstice Equinox Y

Figure 4: Equinoxes occur because the axis of Earth's spin, the polar axis, is tilted at an angle of 23.5° to the plane of its orbit around the Sun.

Figure 5: March equinox at Stonehenge, Wiltshire.

20th: Venus at greatest elongation West (figure 6/6a). Reaching greatest separation from the Sun in its 2022 morning apparition. Not very prominent, possibly tricky to observe, binoculars may assist with improved viewing. Venus will be 101.716 million km from Earth.

Figure 6.

Figure 6a.

25'h: Moon at last quarter (figure 7). Prominent in the pre, dawn sky. Visible 02:57 (GMT), before fading from view at day break, 05:45. It will appear approximately half illuminated at a distance of 369043 km.

Figure 7.

28th: Conjunction of Moon and Venus (figure 8). They will be visible at dawn, from 05:30 (GMT) above the South East before fading at 06:40. The Moon will be 374617 km away and Venus 110.5 million km. Observed in constellation Capricornus (figure 9).

Figure 8.

Figure 9.

28th: Close approach of Moon, Venus and Saturn (figure 10). Difficult to observe. Visible in dawn sky (constellation Capricornus (figure 9)), from 05:30 (GMT) above South East, before fading from view at 06:40. The Moon will be 374692 km from Earth, Venus, 110.5 million km and Saturn 1581.4 million km.

Figure 10.

WARNING: Never attempt to view through binoculars, telescope or any optical aid an object near to the Sun. Also, never attempt to view the Sun, aided or unaided, doing so may result in immediate and permanent blindness. Always use astronomical approved viewing equipment. The Stellarium software will assist greatly in locating objects in the sky.

Mark R Smith FRAS FRi

Nuclear Fusion Physicist