In The March Sky
March 14: Moon, Jupiter, and Spica
The dazzling planet Jupiter and the fainter star Spica rise almost even with the Moon this evening. All three objects are within the borders of the constellation Virgo.
March 15: Quasars
Amateur telescopes reveal amazing sights. Perhaps the most amazing looks like an average star. It’s a maelstrom of gas around a massive black hole 2.5 billion light-years away. Known as 3C 273, it’s in the east at nightfall, above the brilliant planet Jupiter.
March 16: Giant Cannibal
Betelgeuse, the bright orange shoulder of Orion, is high in the south-southwest as night falls, above the hunter’s three-star belt. Recent research says that when Betelgeuse was younger, it might have swallowed a companion star as massive as the Sun.
March 17: Venus and Mercury
The Sun’s two closest planets are staging a switcheroo. Mercury is climbing higher into the evening sky, while Venus is dropping out of the sky. Venus is the brilliant “evening star,” with much fainter Mercury close to its lower left tonight.
March 18: Moon, Antares, Saturn
The planet Saturn is in good view early tomorrow. It looks like a bright star to the lower left of the Moon at first light. The bright star Antares stands about the same distance to the lower right of the Moon.
March 19: Vernal Equinox
Those of us in the United States will wake up to a new season tomorrow. Spring begins at 5:29 a.m. CDT, which is the moment of the vernal equinox. It occurs when the Sun crosses Earth’s equator from south to north.