All information presented here is taken from my 74 page book
Nightscenes 2018 which is available to order from our web shop and all good book stores! Note we can no longer supply printed copies as we’ve run out but a pdf version is now available from our web shop.
Click on the monthly image to get a larger high resolution view of the night sky set for 53° N (Horncastle, England) but is usable for the UK and Eire. All charts are set for the 1st of the month at 22:00 GMT (10pm) and can be used on the other dates and times shown in each corner of the chart.
Solar System quick summary
For most charts see the buttons at the top for various planets etc.. Charts & images in the text can be clicked to give a larger view.
The almost Full Moon occults Regulus on the morning of the 1st. There is again two Full Moon’s this month. Mercury and Venus lie in the evening twilight whilst Uranus is in conjunction with Venus on the 28th. Ceres is high in the evening sky whilst the mornings are dominated by Jupiter followed by Mars and Saturn. Mars begins the month between Antares and Saturn and ends the month close to Saturn. Minor planet Vesta begins the month in Ophiuchus then passes into Sagittarius. Neptune is in conjunction with the Sun on the 4th and not viewable. The Moon occults Aldebaran on the late evening of the 22nd.
We begin with the occultation of Regulus, Alpha Leonis in the early morning of March 1st. The view at left shows a close up with the companion to Regulus being occulted first. Look from around 5:50am as the almost Full Moon approaches Regulus. Disappearance takes place on the thin sliver of night on the moon so don’t be fooled by the star disappearing before you think it should. Northern areas of the UK may just get the reappearance just before the Moon and Regulus set but for southern parts they will have set.
Next up we turn to the the evening sky and for most of the month Mercury puts in an appearance along with brighter Venus over in the early evening twilight. The view below is set for roughly forty minutes after sunset from March 1st to 31st looking roughly West to WNW. This apparition began in late February but things really improve now. On the 3rd Venus and Mercury are closest at ~ 1° apart and virtually level with each other in the sky with Mercury mag -
During the last half of the month Uranus also slides down into the evening twilight and is in conjunction with Venus on the 28th which will help find the much fainter distant planet. Bear in mind Uranus will be faint at mag 5.9 but the two planets will only be 1/4° apart so will fit in a field of view (above inset) of a short focal length 80mm refractor with a 26mm eyepiece which will also include the star Omicron Pisces (mag 4.2) as a bonus. Look for them around 8:30pm local time (remember BST/Daylight time will have begun). After this Uranus will become lost to view early next month whilst Venus continues to remain a bright evening twilight planet.
However, the main highlight in the morning sky just as twilight begins is Mars as it heads towards next months encounter with Saturn as well as our Moon joining in the fun too! Mars is rapidly moving through Ophiuchus and just before it leaves it, the Moon lies to its upper left on the 10th then near Saturn on the 11th as shown here at right with the view set for 5:30am on the 11th looking ~ SSE. Mars moves enough in those two days to be shown on the chart for them whilst slower moving Saturn barely appears to move. Mars enters and heads across Sagittarius and passes between the Lagoon (M8) and Trifid (M20) nebulae on the 19th for a grand view and good astro photo opportunity too! Mars then races towards Saturn almost reaching it by the end of the month.
After lying below Mercury and Venus on the 18th in the evening sky the Moon has a good encounter with Taurus. On the 21st it forms a wide triangle with the star cluster M45 and the Hyades star cluster along with the bright star Aldebaran. The next evening it lies within the Hyades star cluster as shown at left.
Keep watching that evening as the Moon gets lower in the sky but also creeps closer to Aldebaran as around 11pm local time it will occult the star (times will vary). We all get to see it but the reappearance varies as the SE half of the UK the Moon will set and for all other regions it will be quite low in the WNW just above the horizon so make sure you have a clear uncluttered horizon if you want to catch the reappearance.
Also look out for the following:
Mar 2nd First Full Moon of the month
Mar 4th Moon lies very close to Porrima (morning) / Moon lies above left of Spica later that evening
Mar 8th Moon forms triangle with Jupiter and Antares (morning)
Mar 9th Last Quarter Moon forms triangle with Antares & Mars in morning twilight
Mar 12th Pallas lies close to Pi Eri this evening -
Mar 28th Moon lies to left of Regulus (late evening)
Mar 31st 2nd Full (Blue) Moon lies to left of Porrima and above Spica as they rise in the late evening.
Clear skies and happy sky watching.
The UK & Ireland Night Sky for 2018
The Spring or Vernal Equinox occurs on March 20th at 16:15 GMT. Spring officially begins in the N. Hemisphere / Autumn begins in the S. Hemisphere. British Summer Time, also known as Daylight Saving Time, begins at 1am on Sunday March 25th when the clocks are put forward one hour.
Webmaster © Paul L Money 2017
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