The small planet Mercury is so close to the Sun that it will be hardly visible. If you have an ideal horizon and use a binocular look at about 7.40 pm. The planet is in the in constellation Pisces. The planet Venus rises 15 min before the Sun. It is getting closer to our daily star and Venus is best seen at 5.45 pm in the constellation Aquarius. The red planet Mars is best seen from midnight to 5.40 am in the constellation Scorpius. The giant planet Jupiter is best seen from 6.40 pm onwards throughout the whole night in the constellation Leo. The planet with the rings Saturn is best seen from 1 am onwards in the constellation Ophiuchus.
Look at about 8 pm for the Zodiacal Light low above the Western horizon. After midnight at about 1.20 am the Gegenschein, a faint glowing patch of sky is visible 33° above the Southern horizon in the constellation Virgo.
Wednesday 23 March
Today in 1840 John William Draper took the first successful photo of the Moon. He made a daguerreotype, a precursor of the modern photograph.
At noon it is Full Moon. This is the 2nd smallest Full Moon of the year. The former smaller Full Moon was on 5 March 2015. The next smaller Full Moon will be on 22 April 2016.
The smaller planet Mercury is in conjunction and only 1.3° separated from the Sun at 8.20 pm. The distance to the Earth is 1.347 AU. One Astronomical Unit (AU) is the average distance of the Earth to the Sun. Mercury is too close to the Sun and not visible.
Have a look at the giant planet Jupiter if you have binoculars. You will see up to four tiny “stars” in a line besides the planet. These are the Galilean satellites or Jovian Moons, Jupiter’s 4 largest Moons. A small telescope with medium to high magnification will also reveal dark bands in the planet’s atmosphere, crossing the disk of the planet. Some interesting events occur tonight on and around Jupiter. At 9.38 pm the Great Red Spot is in transit on the disc. At 10.17 pm the Jupiter Moon Europa disappears for an occultation. The Jupiter Moon Ganymede begins its transit at 10.19 pm and at 10.22 pm the Jupiter Moon Io begins its transit. We have now 2 Moons (Io, Ganymede) in front of Jupiter. Only 1 Moon visible around Jupiter; 1 occulted or eclipsed, 2 in transit. At 10.43 pm the Jupiter Moon Io begins it shadow transit. And at 11.47 pm the Jupiter Moon Ganymede begins its shadow transit. We have now 2 Moons (Io, Ganymede) and 2 shadows (from Io, Ganymede) in front of Jupiter. The Jupiter Moon Io ends its transit at 0.36 am and ends its shadow at 0.59 am. The Jupiter Moon Ganymede ends its transit at 1.30 am and the Jupiter Moon Europa ends its eclipse at 1.46 am.
The Moon is close to the bright stars Porrima and g29 Virginis at 2 am. They are both about 3 lunar diameters apart.
At 3.03 am the Jupiter Moon Ganymede ends its shadow.
The International Space Station, known as ISS, appears at 4.06 am in the South at an altitude of 33°. ISS disappears already in the South Eastern horizon at 4.11 am. ISS appears as a bright "star" in the sky, moving slowly and easily visible with the naked eye. One rotation around the Earth takes about 90 minutes.
Thursday 24 March
Make some time to look at Jupiter. At 7.34 pm the Jupiter Moon Io disappears. At 10.14 pm the Jupiter Moon Io ends its eclipse.
ISS appears at 3.16 am in the East South East at about 11° altitude. ISS disappears already at 3.19 am in the East South Eastern horizon.
At 3.25 am the Great Red Spot transits the giant planet Jupiter
ISS appears after one rotation of 90 minutes at 4.49 am in the South West at an altitude of 14°. Culmination is at the same time. ISS disappears at 4.54 am in the South South East.
At 5.14 am an Iridium flare is visible in the South at altitude of 57° in the constellation Hercules.
Friday 25 March
Daytime and not visible, at 10 am the planet Saturn is stationary or getting in retrograde.
The Moon is in apogee at 2.16 pm. The distance is 253828 miles or 406125 km.
Jupiter time! At 7.27 pm the Jupiter Moon Io ends its shadow. At 7.36 pm the Jupiter Moon Europa ends the transit. At 8.28 pm the Jupiter Moon Europa ends the shadow and at 11.16 pm the Great Red Spot transits Jupiter. After midnight at 1.53 am the Jupiter Moon Callisto disappears.
At 3.31 am an Iridium flare is visible in the West South West at altitude of 47° in the constellation Coma Berenices.
ISS appears at 3.59 am in the South at an altitude of 14° and disappears already at 4.02 am at the Eastern horizon.
At 4.19 am the Jupiter Moon Callisto reappears.
Saturday 26 March
Today in 1923 the BBC began its daily radio weather forecast.
At 7.07 pm the Great Red Spot transits the giant planet Jupiter. Its transits again in the morning before Sun rise at 6.03 am.
At 4.25 am a rather bright Iridium flare appears in the West South West at an altitude of 48° in the constellation Coma Berenices.
Sunday 27 March
A quiet night... At 1.54 am the Great Red Spot transits the giant planet Jupiter.
Monday 28 March
At 9.46 pm the Great Red Spot transits Jupiter.
The waning gibbous Moon approaches Mars, Antares and Saturn again in the pre-dawn sky this morning. The last time it passed this way was on 29 February and Mars has since drawn closer to Saturn. Come back tomorrow morning to see the Moon close to that world. Meanwhile, Antares completes a triangle of “stars” with the two planets above.
The Moon is close to the red planet Mars at 1.50 am. The limb separation is about 4° or 8 lunar diameters. The Moon is only 6° high, so look for a low and clear horizon. The Moon phase is 75%. At 6.20 am the Moon is close to Saturn. They are about 11 lunar diameters separated.
Tuesday 29 March
Today in 1974 Mariner 10 took the first close-up pictures of the planet Mercury. It was launched 3 November 1973. On its way to Mercury, Mariner 10 made its first flyby of Venus on 5 February 1974 and discovered evidence of rotating clouds.
At 9.38 pm a flare appears in the East South East at an altitude 74° in the constellation Ursa Major.
The waning gibbous Moon now appears between Mars and Saturn in the pre-dawn sky, with the bright star Antares still nearby. How bright does Saturn appear, compared to Mars and Antares? Which is the brightest and which is the faintest? Let us know!
At 2.09 am the Moon is in maximum libration South. The South Pole is tipped into the Earth's view.
The Great Red Spot is in transit on Jupiter at 3.33 am. At 3.53 am the Jupiter Moon Io disappears.
Wednesday 30 March
Today in 239 BC it was the first recorded perihelion passage of Halley's Comet by Chinese astronomers in the Shih Chi and Wen Hsien Thung Khao chronicles. The 75-year orbit carries out well beyond the orbit of Neptune and well inside the orbits of Earth and Venus when it swings in around the Sun. Edmond Halley predicted in 1705 that the comet that appeared over London in 1682 would reappear again in 1759, and that it was the same comet that appeared in 1607 and 1531. When the comet did in fact reappear again in 1759, as correctly predicted, it was named after Halley.
The International Space Station, called ISS appears at 9.19 pm in the South South West. ISS is visible as a bright moving "star" in the sky and can be seen with the naked eye. You do not need a telescope or binocular. ISS disappears already after a few minutes at 9.21 pm in the South.
The Moon is in maximum declination South at 11.13 pm. This is the lowest Southernmost Moon position of the next 10 years, and the 2nd lowest of the year. Then former lower Southern Southernmost Moon position was on 3 March 2016. The next lower Southern Southernmost Moon position is on 13 March 2034.
Features on and around Jupiter can be seen with a good binocular or smaller telescope. Keep it steady and you will notice the 4 Moons around or on Jupiter. At 11.24 pm the Great Red Spot is in transit on the giant planet. At 1.06 am the Jupiter Moon Io begins its transit. At 1.31 am the Jupiter Moon Europa disappears and at 2.39 am the Jupiter Moon Ganymede begins the transit over the planet. Multi moon and shadow event starts for 42 minutes. We have now 2 Moons (Io, Ganymede) and 1 shadow (from Io) in front of Jupiter. Only 1 Moon is visible around Jupiter: 1 occulted or eclipsed, 2 in transit. At 3.21 am the Jupiter Moon Io ends its transit and at 3.53 am ends its shadow transit. At 4.46 am the Jupiter Moon Ganymede begins its shadow transit and at 5.19 am the Jupiter Moon Europa ends its eclipse.
Get in touch with me via www.patrickpoitevin.weebly.com if you need more information.