Night Sky - March 2021

1st to 28th: Constellations Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Draco, Cepheus, and otherswill be viewable. Also, visible will be the Pole star (North star or Polaris). Polaris is 432.57 light years away, and the brightest star in Ursa Minor, also visible is the star Kochab, 130.93 light years distant (figures 1 to 4).

Figure 1

Figure 2: Draco (Latin: Dragon).

Figure 3: North star, Kochab, Ursa Major (Big Dipper) and Ursa Minor (Little Dipper). Ursa Minor (Latin: Lesser Bear), Ursa Major (Latin: Greater Bear).

Figure 4: Cepheus (after a king of Aethiopia in Greek mythology).

1st to 28th: South, Canis Minor, with star Procyon, Canis Major with star Sirius,and constellation Gemini, a few of the constellations on view (figures 5 to 8).

Figure 5: Canis Minor with Procyon. Procyon appears to be a single star when viewed from Earth, however, it is a binary star system (two stars) 11.46 light years away.

Figure 6: Canis Major with Sirius. Sirius is 8.6 light years away, and is a binary star system. Sirius, Greek for “glowing” or “scorching”.

Figure 7: Canis Minor (Latin “Lesser Dog”), and Canis Major (Latin: “Greater Dog”), with, Procyon and Sirius.

Figure 8: Constellation Gemini, with stars Pollux and Castor. Pollux (Latin: Beta Geminorum”) 34 light years away, and has a planet orbiting. Castor (Latin: “Alpha Geminorum”) 51 light years away.

19th: Conjunction of Moon and Mars (figures 9/10), visible, 18:50 (GMT)above South West, moving towards horizon, setting at 01:15, in Taurus. Visible to the unaided eye or through binoculars. Conjunction occurs

when planets or a planet and the Moon appear incredibly close to one another in the sky because they line up with Earth in their respective orbits. Moon will be 398787 km from Earth, Mars will be 246.4 million km from Earth.

Figure 9: Conjunction, Moon and Mars.

Figure 10: Moon and Mars, conjunction.

20th: March Equinox (figure 11), marking first day of spring for Northernhemisphere. Everywhere on Earth having approximately 12 hours of day and night. Equinox derived from Latin, meaning aequus (equal) and nox (night). On the day of the equinox the Sun rises from the point on the horizon which lies due East, and sets beneath the point which lies due West.

Figure 11: March Equinox (Spring).

28th: Full Moon (figure 12, (Worm Moon)) will take place close to the time ofmonth when the Moon makes a close approach (358059 km) to Earth (perigee). As temperatures warm, earthworm casts appear and birds begin finding food.

Worm Moon occurs the same month as Spring Equinox, which is March 20th.

Figure 12: March full Moon.

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


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