Celestial Events In March: A Guide For Skywatchers

March is the month to deepen your understanding of the universe and contemplate the mysteries that lie beyond our world. Here are the list of celestial events in March you should keep your eyes peeled for
A child with a telescope studying the starry sky and galaxies
A child with a telescope studying the starry sky and galaxiesShutterstock

As the winter season draws to a close and the spring season begins, March is a month of great significance for skywatchers, as it presents a host of fascinating celestial events to witness. The month is marked by several noteworthy occurrences, including meteor showers, the equinox, and other cosmic wonders that will keep you up all night. Here are some of the notable celestial events in March you should keep your eyes out for:

March 2: Venus-Jupiter Conjunction

Night sky full of stars and the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter
Night sky full of stars and the conjunction of Venus and JupiterShutterstock

One of the most spectacular events in March is the close encounter between Venus and Jupiter, the two brightest planets in our night sky. On March 2, the pair will appear only 29.4 arcminutes apart, which means you can easily see them both in the same field of view of a telescope or binoculars. Look for them in the eastern sky before sunrise, and marvel at their dazzling beauty.

This conjunction will be visible from India, as well as most parts of the world.

March 7: Lunar Occultation of Venus

A lunar occultation occurs when the Moon passes in front of a star or a planet, blocking it from view. On March 7, the Moon will occult Venus, the brightest planet in the sky. This is a rare and fascinating event that can be seen with the naked eye, a telescope, or binoculars.

The exact timing and visibility of the occultation will depend on your location, so you should check the local predictions before observing it. The occultation will start when Venus disappears behind the dark edge of the Moon, and end when Venus reappears from behind the bright edge of the Moon.

This occurrence will be visible throughout India.

March 8: Moon-Mars Conjunction

Conjunction Moon and Mars
Conjunction Moon and MarsShutterstock

This major celestial event in March is the conjunction between the Moon and Mars, the red planet. On March 8, the Moon and Mars will appear only 3.5 degrees apart in the sky, which is about the width of your fist held at arm’s length. You can see them both in the same field of view of a telescope or binoculars or simply admire them with the naked eye. Look for them in the western sky after sunset, and enjoy the contrast between the white Moon and the orange Mars.

It will be visible across India.

March 10: New Moon

The new moon of March is the opposite of the full moon, as it occurs when the Moon is not visible from Earth. This is the best time to observe the deep sky objects, such as galaxies, clusters, and nebulae, as the sky is darker due to the absence of moonlight. You will need a telescope or binoculars to see these faint and distant objects, and a star chart or an app to help you locate them.

One of the most popular activities for skywatchers during the new moon is the Messier Marathon, which is an attempt to see all 110 Messier objects in one night. The Messier objects are a catalogue of bright and interesting celestial objects compiled by the French astronomer Charles Messier in the 18th century. The Messier Marathon is a challenging but rewarding endeavour that requires careful planning, good weather, and a lot of stamina.

March 18: Full Moon

The full moon or the Worm Moon of March
The full moon or the Worm Moon of MarchShutterstock

The full moon of March is also known as the Worm Moon because it coincides with the time when earthworms emerge from the soil as the ground thaws. The full moon is a time to admire the lunar features, such as craters, mountains, and seas, using a telescope or binoculars. At this time, the moon illuminates the night sky, making it harder to see fainter objects in the sky like galaxies and nebulae.

You can witness the full moon from any corner of India.

March 19: March Equinox

The March equinox marks the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere and autumn in the southern hemisphere. It is the moment when the Sun crosses the celestial equator, the imaginary line in the sky that corresponds to the Earth’s equator. On this day, the length of day and night are approximately equal all over the world.

The March equinox is also a good time to observe the Zodiacal Light, a faint glow that extends along the ecliptic, the path of the Sun and the planets in the sky. The Zodiacal Light is caused by sunlight reflecting off dust particles in the solar system, and it is best seen in the western sky after sunset or in the eastern sky before sunrise.

You can observe this event no matter where you are in India.

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