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In the Sky This Month

March 18: Moon and Companions

The vanishingly thin crescent Moon has a couple of companions after sunset this evening, the planets Venus and Mercury. Venus is the “evening star,” to the right of the Moon. Much-fainter Mercury is about the same distance to the upper right of Venus.

March 19: Vernal Equinox

The Sun will cross the celestial equator tomorrow. The crossing marks the vernal equinox, which is the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere. It also marks the starting point for measuring the length of the year.

March 20: Winter Circle

Spring arrives in the northern hemisphere today, but the most prominent stars of winter remain in good view. They form a big loop known as the Winter Circle, which is in the southwestern quadrant of the sky this evening.

March 21: Coma Berenices

The constellation Coma Berenices, which represents the hair of a legendary queen, is well up in the east by mid-evening. It is about half way between the bright stars Arcturus and Regulus, which highlight the eastern sky.

March 22: Moon and Aldebaran

Aldebaran, the bright eye of the bull, stands just below the Moon at nightfall, and leads the Moon down the sky later on. Aldebaran is just 65 light-years away. It is a bloated star near the end of its life.

March 23: Runaways

The Orion Nebula, a stellar nursery, hangs below the hunter’s belt at nightfall. A binary star known as Iota Orionis is near the nebula. An encounter with another binary may have kicked one star from each system out into space, with the remaining stars forming a new binary.

March 24: First-Quarter Moon

The Moon is at first quarter today, exactly one-quarter of the way through its month-long cycle of phases. It lines up at a right angle to Earth and the Sun, so sunlight illuminates half of the lunar hemisphere that faces our way.

Current moon phase

Full MoonFull Mar. 1, 6:51 pm

Last quarterLast Mar. 9, 5:20 am

New MoonNew Mar. 17, 8:12 am

First QuarterFirst Mar. 24, 10:35 am

Full MoonFull Mar. 31, 7:37 am

Times are U.S. Central Time.

Apogee March 11

Perigee March 26

The full Moon of March is known as the Sap Moon, Worm Moon, or Lenten Moon. The second full Moon of the month is a Blue Moon.