This March, there are a few key astronomical phenomena that you should keep in mind if you are a star enthusiast that enjoys gazing at the night sky looking for bright phenomena to witness.
First of all, March hosts the vernal equinox, and it will occur at 6:29 a.m. on March 20th. This event marks the passing of the sun over the celestial equator on an upward path. A few days before or after the equinox, there is the day that is exactly 12 hours long.
It was believed that these days, that happen twice a year, fall on the equinox dates, but Johannes Kepler explained that this cannot be true every year since Earth’s orbit around the sun is not a perfect circle, but an ellipse.
One of the most important things to see on the sky is the show that Venus is preparing near the end of the month. It will appear in both the evening and the morning sky and it will display a huge crescent that you will be able to witness without the need of binoculars.
In early April, Mercury will appear on the evening sky, and then it will be followed by Jupiter that will appear higher and brighter until it reaches its opposition. The most impressive phenomenon will take place on May 4th.
The phenomenon represents the occultation of the Moon and Aldebaran in Taurus. However, this will not be visible in the Northeast part of the country. Some slight shimmers of Aldebaran will be visible along Hartford, Connecticut, before the moon covers the stars.
However, we should focus on the upcoming special display of Venus. It will reach an inferior conjunction on March 25th. This is the closest Venus ever gets to Earth in a cycle of 1.6 years. It will pass more than 8 degrees north of the Sun, and this is why the planet will be visible in the evening after sunset and in the morning after sunrise.
Do not worry if you think you will miss the sighting. You will be able to witness Venus in all its splendor for more than a week. You can start searching for it on the sky starting March 15th. It will be there for you to see until March 25th, you just have to wait for a sunset or sunrise.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons