"The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination, but the combination is locked up in the safe."
- Peter de Vries

Comet Holmes and the California Nebula (D. Dockery) 

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Highlights for March, 2017

The Moon and Planets:

The Moon. The month begins with a 3-day old crescent Moon near Mars. First quarter occurs on March 4th. Full Moon is on March 12. The Moon is near Jupiter on March 14-15. Third quarter occurs on March 20 which also sees the Moon within a few degrees of Saturn. New Moon occurs on March 27, then on March 30, the 3-day old crescent Moon is again near Mars.



Mercury. is visible in the sky a little after sunset during the latter half of March. It will be low in the west almost directly above where the Sun just set. It will be approaching maximum elongation at month's end. March is a good month to view this elusive little planet.

Venus has been the evening star for several months, but will disappear from view as it moves into the Sun's glare during March. Conjunction occurs on March 25. During the first half of the month, Venus will appear as a narrow (and large) crescent when viewed thru a modest telescope.

Mars is continues to shine in the west after sunset. It's very slowly descending and growing slightly dimmer throughout the month.

Jupiter (in Virgo) rises around 9 pm at the beginning of March. By month's end, it will rise just after sunset.

Saturn (in Sagittarius) is visible in the early morning sky throughout March.

Outer Planets. Uranus and Neptune. Uranus (in Pisces) is near Mars in the west at dusk at the beginning of March. By month's end it will be lost in the Sun's glare. Neptune is lost in the Sun's glare throughout March.

Pluto rises in the east an hour or two before dawn during March. It's still fairly close to the Summer Milky Way, so it difficult to pick out among all of the stars. At magnitude 14.3 it's pretty difficult to observe anyway unless a large telescope is used.

Comets, Asteroids and Meteor Showers:

Comet Encke (2P) should be visible low in the west in the evening sky at the beginning of March. It could reach magnitude 7 which could make it a decent binocular/telescope object. It races past the Sun on March 10-11 and should then be visible in the SE sky in the morning toward the latter part of the month.

Constellations and Deep Space Objects:

The Winter Milky Way still dominates the night sky, but as the month progresses, we begin to move into what is known as 'galaxy season'. Earth's position during the Spring makes it possible to gaze through only a thin portion of the Milky Way Galaxy. That makes it much easier to see distant galaxies. The region between Leo, Virgo and Coma Berenices is an excellent place to look for scores of fairly bright galaxies.

Spring Galaxies