After a few months of spectacular planet viewing, things start to calm down. The month starts with Venus and Jupiter forming a dazzling pair in the west at nightfall, but they quickly separate, with Jupiter dropping lower into the sunset. Mars drops to just a fraction of the brilliance it displayed in December, with Saturn and Mercury out of sight. In the stars, Leo begins its climb to spring prominence, with Virgo following the lion a few hours later.
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In the Sky This Month
March 23: Moon and Venus
The Moon creeps up on the brightest point of light in the night sky tonight: Venus, the “evening star.” Venus stands above the Moon as they come into view. The gap between them will shrink as they set, a couple of hours later.
March 24: Milky Way
The Milky Way arches between Gemini and Orion this evening. To find Orion, look for the line of three bright stars that marks Orion’s Belt, in the southerdy in early evening. To find Gemini, look for a pair of even brighter stars high in the east.
March 25: Moon and the Pleiades
The Pleiades star cluster, which is also known as the Seven Sisters, poses to the upper right of the Moon at nightfall. Binoculars will help you see the cluster’s stars through the glare. The stars form the outline of a tiny dipper.
March 26: North Poles
The Big Dipper is high overhead this evening, with the bowl turned upside down. Link the two stars at the outer edge of the bowl and follow that line toward the horizon. The first moderately bright star is Polaris, the North Star or Pole tar.
March 27: Moon, El Nath, and Mars
The star El Nath stands close to the lower right of the Moon this evening. It forms the tip of one of the horns of Taurus, the bull, so it’s nicknamed “the butting one.” The bright orange planet Mars is a little farther to the upper left of the Moon.
March 28: Moon and Mars
The planet Mars is well up in the west-southwest at nightfall. It looks like a bright orange star. Tonight, it’s below the first-quarter Moon, and leads the Moon down the western sky.
March 29: Venus and Uranus
The planet Uranus stands close to Venus, the Evening Star, the next couple of nights. It’s easily visible through binoculars. It looks like a faint green star. It’s to the upper left of Venus tonight, and about the same distance to the lower left of Venus tomorrow night.
Full March 7, 6:40 am
Last March 14, 9:08 pm
New March 21, 12:23 pm
First March 28, 9:32 pm
Times are U.S. Central Time.
Apogee March 3, 31
Perigee March 19
The full Moon of March is known as the Sap Moon, Worm Moon, or Lenten Moon.