JUPITER’S MOONS MARCH

Sky at Night Magazine - - THE SKY GUIDE -

Us­ing a small scope you’ll be able to spot Jupiter’s big­gest moons. Their po­si­tions change dra­mat­i­cally dur­ing the month, as shown on the di­a­gram. The line by each date on the left rep­re­sents 00:00 UT. VENUS BEST TIME TO SEE: 1 March, from 18:30 UT AL­TI­TUDE: 24º LO­CA­TION: Pisces DI­REC­TION: West Venus is a splen­did sight at the start of March. Al­though it’s head­ing back to­wards the Sun it re­mains well po­si­tioned un­til mid month, a re­sult of the steep path of evening eclip­tic cou­pled with the planet be­ing north of this plane. Venus is cur­rently on the part of its or­bit clos­est to Earth. Con­se­quently on 1 March it looks large through a scope, with an ap­par­ent di­am­e­ter of 47 arc­sec­onds. It’s bright too, shin­ing away at mag. –4.5. The planet re­mains nicely vis­i­ble un­til mid March, af­ter which it’s al­most as if some­one has taken the brakes off. On 16 March, it sets 100 min­utes af­ter the Sun and ap­pears al­most 1 ar­cminute across with a phase of just 3% through the eye­piece. By 20 March it sets 70 min­utes af­ter the Sun and five days later it reaches in­fe­rior con­junc­tion. Amaz­ingly, its po­si­tion north of the eclip­tic brings it back into view in the morn­ing sky quite rapidly. By 31 March it rises an hour be­fore sun­rise and shows a 58-arc­sec­ond crescent at just 2% il­lu­mi­na­tion through a scope.

JUPITER

BEST TIME TO SEE: 31 March, 01:50 BST (00:50 UT) AL­TI­TUDE: 30º LO­CA­TION: Virgo DI­REC­TION: South Jupiter reaches op­po­si­tion early next month, mak­ing March an ideal time to start ob­serv­ing it. At the start of March Jupiter rises around 21:30 UT, reach­ing its high­est point in the sky (cul­mi­na­tion), due south at 03:00 UT. By the end of March its rise time is 20:30 BST (19:30 UT) in twi­light. On the 31st, it cul­mi­nates at 01:50 BST (00:50 UT). Through a scope its disc ap­pears 44 arc­sec­onds across on the 31st, and it shines at mag. –2.4. On the evening of the 14th, it rises above the east-southeast horizon with the Moon, at around 21:00 UT.

SATURN

BEST TIME TO SEE: 31 March, from 05:00 BST (04:00 UT) AL­TI­TUDE: 12.5º LO­CA­TION: Sagittariu­s DI­REC­TION: South-southeast

Saturn is a mag. +0.5 morn­ing ob­ject for most of the month. It is lo­cated in Sagittariu­s and has a low UK al­ti­tude. The rings are well pre­sented, the planet’s north pole be­ing tilted to­wards Earth by 26.5º. MARS

BEST TIME TO SEE: 1 March, from 19:20 UT AL­TI­TUDE: 23º LO­CA­TION: Pisces DI­REC­TION: West-south­west The waxing crescent Moon (12% lit) is 5º be­low and left of mag. +1.3 Mars on 1 March. Look with a pair of binoc­u­lars: the 6th-mag­ni­tude dot 2º be­low and slightly right of Mars is Uranus. Mars moves east against the stars for the re­main­der of the month, help­ing the planet main­tain po­si­tion against the horizon at the same time of evening. On the 30th the Moon re­joins the planet, its 9%-lit waxing crescent 6º to the east. Te­le­scop­i­cally Mars ap­pears a rather dis­ap­point­ing 4.3 arc­sec­onds across, not much big­ger than Uranus. URANUS

BEST TIME TO SEE: 1 March, 19:45 UT AL­TI­TUDE: 17º LO­CA­TION: Pisces DI­REC­TION: West We are now los­ing Uranus to the rapid growth of the evening twi­light. At the start of March the planet is just 17º up as seen from the cen­tre of the UK. When dark­ness falls at the end of the month, it will no longer be vis­i­ble. NEP­TUNE Not vis­i­ble this month, be­ing at so­lar con­junc­tion on 2 March. YOUR BONUS CON­TENT Plan­e­tary ob­serv­ing forms

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