A monthly look at astronomical events in the sky and on Earth
Compiled by Steve Sawyer
Hi welcome to March’s whatsup. We’re now in the 1st month (meteorological) of Spring and the daffs are just about out and our snowdrops are just starting to fade. The days are becoming longer quite quickly so try to make the most of dark nights.
So what’s on this month?
Venus meets Jupiter at the start of the month and the spring consellations (Leo and Virgo) are high in the southern sky. 20th March sees the Spring Equinox (day and night are almost the same length) and at the end of the month (26th) Bristish Summer time starts. Don’t forget to change your clocks and any astromical equipment that needs a date change.
Not quite Equal
On the equinox, day and night are almost equal, but not exactly the same. This is due to atmospheric refraction and the definition of sunset/sunrise. Atmospheric refraction adds about 8 minutes of sunlight by bending light upwards when the Sun is near the horizon. Sunrise and sunset are defined as the exact moments when the upper edge of the Sun touches the horizon, making the day slightly longer than the night.
Society Facebook group for posting any images you wish to share
Facebook group link : https://www.facebook.com/groups/yorkastro
|1st||Jupiter and Venus conjunction|
|2nd||Moon near Castor and Pollux|
|5th||Moon near Regulas|
|9th||Moon near Spica|
|10th||Moon near Spica|
|15th||Last quarter moon|
|23rd||Moon between Venus and Jupiter|
|24th||Moon near Venus|
|25th||Moon near Pliedes|
|26th||Moon near Alderbaran|
|28th||Moon near Mars|
|29th||1st Quarter Moon|
|30th||Moon near Castor and Pollux|
Looking South on the 15th at 22:00
Looking North on the 15th at 22:00
The two charts above show all DSOs of magnitude 6.0 or brighter, the first being the
whole sky and the second a 100° span centred on the zenith. They are both taken from
SkyViewCafe.com and correct for the 9th of the month. For a clickable list of Messier objects with images, use the Wikipedia link.
The sun is currently pretty active with 2 CME’s on there way to Earth and with the sun spot being double last months (129) March might be a good month for Aurora spottimg. The month around an Equinox is traditionaly a good time to spot Auroas. The Sky at Night has a great article about Aurora this month.
Locally one of the best places to go is apparently Bempton cliffs as you can get a good Northerly view point. Or Whitby habour at the end of the pier is also a good location.
For more info on the sun and solar weather look here : –
The 3rd full Moon of 2023 is the Lentem Moon.
See the sky diary for this months lunar events
A full lunar calendar can be found here :-
Hidden in the suns glare this month.
This months best planet for viewing with a nice show on the 1st being paired with Jupter
Mars is fading now at mag +0.7 as the distance from Earth increases.
Jupiter puts on an early show with Venus on the 1st of the month. But soon becomes and evening twilight planet as the month goes by.
Saturn is too close to the Sun to be a good target for observation.
Dim at +5.8 and becoming lower in sky.
There are no noticeable meteor showers visible in the Northern Hemisphere in March. However, it’s still worth going outside, especially during the New Moon period. Sporadic meteors (not associated with a particular meteor shower) can be seen anytime!
No easy to see comets this month, the ones listed below start at mag 8 and go to mag 13.
|C/2022 E3 (ZTF)||8|
|C/2020 V2 (ZTF)||9|
|C/2022 A2 (PanSTARRS)||9|
|C/2019 U5 (PanSTARRS)||11|
|C/2022 U2 (ATLAS)||12|
|29P/Schwassmann- Wachmann 1||13|
Deep Sky (DSO’s)
Some DSO’s for you to target this month. Photo’s please to our Facebook group!
Some Virgo Challenges
In the Northern Hemisphere, Virgo is a notable sight in the spring sky and can be seen throughout the night in March and April. As the most extensive zodiac constellation, it takes the Sun 44 days to traverse, making it the lengthiest journey of any constellation in the zodiac.
Virgo is a constellation known for its rich collection of deep-sky objects, including galaxies, clusters, and nebulae. Some of the prominent deep-sky objects in Virgo include:
M61 is a barred spiral galaxy located about 52 million light-years away from Earth. It has a bright core and is a popular target
NGC 4567 and NGC 4568
The Siamese Twins: These two galaxies are interacting with each other and are located about 59 million light-years away from Earth.
M49, also known as NGC 4472, is a massive elliptical galaxy located in the constellation Virgo. It is one of the brightest and largest galaxies in the Virgo Cluster, which is a group of galaxies located approximately 54 million light-years away from Earth.
M87, also known as Virgo A or NGC 4486, is a giant elliptical galaxy located in the constellation Virgo. It is one of the largest and most massive galaxies known, with a diameter of about 120,000 light-years and a mass of about 6.6 trillion times that of the Sun.
M87 is also notable for its active galactic nucleus (AGN) which includes a supermassive black hole at its center. The black hole has an estimated mass of about 6.5 billion times that of the Sun, making it one of the most massive black holes known. The intense gravitational pull of the black hole draws in matter from the surrounding gas and dust, causing the material to heat up and emit intense radiation, including radio waves, X-rays, and gamma rays.
M87 is also known for its spectacular jet, which extends out for thousands of light-years from the black hole. The jet is thought to be created by charged particles that are accelerated to nearly the speed of light by the black hole’s strong magnetic field.
In 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration released the first-ever image of a black hole, which was a picture of the supermassive black hole at the centre of M87.