Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 47

Fred Schaaf

To find out what's visible in the sky from your location, go to skypub.com/almanac.

December
solstice

Earth
March
equinox

Mercury

Sun

Mars

This month, Mars marches out of
Libra into Scorpius, passing only 9′
north of the double star Beta (β) Scorpii
(Graffias) on the morning of March 16th.
The ochre disk enlarges from 8.7″ to
11.8″ wide this month, and a few surface
features should be visible through good
amateur telescopes (see the March 2014
issue, page 50, for a guide to observing
Mars with a telescope).
The Red Planet's finest hour this
month is at the beginning of dawn,
when it's well up in the south. Watch as
it forms an ever-more-compact pattern
with Antares and the most telescopically
beautiful planet, Saturn.
Saturn, in southern Ophiuchus,
spends March watching Mars draw closer
and closer. The gap between the two

March 19 -22
Around 9 pm

Sickle
a

Moon
Mar 19

Regulus

LEO
Moon
Mar 20

Jupiter
Denebola

Moon
Mar 21

Moon
Mar 22

Looking Southeast, halfway up

Sept.
equinox

Venus
June solstice

Uranus

Jupiter
Saturn

Neptune

Pluto

planets shrinks dramatically from 17° to
just 9° during the month. Saturn begins
retrograde (westward) motion on March
25th. The ringed planet starts the month
at magnitude +0.5, just a trace dimmer
than Mars - can you perceive the difference when they're at similar altitudes?
Try comparing their colors - the orangeyellow of Mars and deep gold of Saturn.
Saturn ends the month at magnitude
+0.3 - but that's 0.8 of a magnitude dimmer than rapidly brightening Mars, so
you'll certainly be able to tell the difference in brilliance then.
Saturn's equatorial diameter appears
about 17″ in the telescope, much larger
than that of Mars. The rings, tilted 26°
from edge-on, or nearly at their maximum, with a 38″ span.

DAWN
Venus opens March rising in the eastsoutheast about an hour before the Sun,
but comes up only about 25 minutes
before the Sun as April approaches.
Venus reaches a minimum magnitude
for the year of -3.8 on the 5th. This
brightness holds steady as Venus slips
into the solar glare, to be hidden from our
view, in April.

O R B IT S O F THE P L ANE T S
The curved arrows show each planet's movement during March. The outer planets don't
change position enough in a month to notice at
this scale.

Mercury, which reaches superior
conjunction on March 23rd, is poorly
placed for observation this month, as are
Neptune and Pluto.

SUN AND MOON
The Sun undergoes a total eclipse on
March 8-9, mostly for Indonesia (see
p. 50. The Sun crosses the equinox on
March 20th at 12:30 a.m. EDT, or 9:30
p.m. PDT. This marks the start of spring
in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn
in the Southern Hemisphere.
The waning gibbous Moon hangs
between Mars and Saturn on the morning of March 1st and much closer to
Saturn the next dawn. The nearly full
Moon rises right of Jupiter on the evening
of March 21st. On the morning of March
23rd, a penumbral eclipse is visible across
the western United States and Hawai'i
(see p. 50). The Moon is upper right of
Mars at dawn on March 28th and upper
right of Saturn on March 29th. ✦
Sk yandTelescope.com March 2016

47


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Sky and Telescope - March 2016

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Sky and Telescope - March 2016

Contents
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - Cover1
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - Cover2
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 1
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - Contents
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 3
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - A
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - B
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 4
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 5
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 6
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 7
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 8
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 9
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 10
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 11
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 12
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 13
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 14
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 15
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 16
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 17
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 18
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 19
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 20
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 21
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 22
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 23
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 24
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 25
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 26
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 27
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 28
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 29
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 30
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 31
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 32
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 33
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 34
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 35
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 36
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 37
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 38
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 39
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 40
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 41
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 42
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 43
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 44
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 45
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 46
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 47
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 48
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 49
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 50
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 51
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 52
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 53
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 54
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 55
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 56
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 57
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 58
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Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 60
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 61
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 62
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 63
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 64
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 65
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 66
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 67
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 68
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 69
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 70
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 71
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 72
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 73
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 74
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 75
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 76
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 77
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 78
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 79
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 80
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 81
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 82
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 83
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - 84
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - Cover3
Sky and Telescope - March 2016 - Cover4
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