This Month’s Sky – March 2014


WHAT’S UP IN THE SKY
AAA Observers’ March Guide

March’s Evening Planets: Jupiter, viewed most of the night in Gemini the Twins, lowers in the sky each evening. Mars rises in Virgo the
Maiden around 9:30 p.m in early March, ap-pearing earlier each night later in the month. Saturn rises around midnight, close to Libra the
Scales lingering until morning.

March’s Evening Stars: Sirius, the brightest star viewed from Earth, will be visible most of the night in Canis Major the Great Dog. Orion dominates the southern, with red Betelgeuse shining at its left shoulder and blue-white Rigel at its right foot. The Winter Triangle is formed by the stars Sirius, Betelgeuse, and Procyon of Canis Minor.
Capella in Auriga the charioteer shines early at night, and Vega in Lyra the Harp rises around mid-night. Find the constellation stars of Gemini, Taurus, Cancer, Leo, Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Perseus, and the two Dippers.

March’s Morning Planets: Venus rises above the Capri-cornus, from 4 a.m/early month to 3:30 a.m/late month. Mars and Saturn linger in the early morning sky for all of March. Mini-planet Pluto can be seen early morning in Sagittarius the Archer.

March’s Morning Stars: Spot Spica in Virgo the Maiden, Vega in Lyra the Harp , Arcturus in Boötes the Herdsman, and the stars of Sagittarius the Archer and Libra the Scales

March’s “Skylights”

March 1 New Moon rises at 3:00 a.m. (EST)
March 3 Moon is 2o north of Uranus
March 8 First Quarter Moon at 8:27 a.m. (EST)
March 10 Moon is 5o south of Jupiter
March 11 Moon at apogee (251,881 miles from Earth) at 3:47 p.m. (EST)
March 16 Full Moon 1:08 p.m. (EST)
March 18 Moon is 3.0o south of Mars
March 20 Occultation of Regulus – 2:05 a.m. (EST) Vernal Equinox at 12:57 p.m. (EST) Moon is 0.2o south of Saturn
March 22 Venus is 47o west of the Sun at 4 p.m. (EST)
March 27 Moon is at perigee (227,238 miles from Earth) at 2:34 p.m. (EST)
March 28 Moon is 5o north of Neptune
March 29 Moon is 6o north of Mercury
March 30 New Moon at 2:45 p.m. (EST) Mars is 5o north of Spica at 12:00 a.m. (EST)

Night Sky Highlights

Occultation of Regulus
Occultations occur when a celestial object passes in front of anther one, and obscures it from our sight. It happens more often with faint
stars, but this year, the first degree star Regulus will disappear as asteroid 163 – Erigone passes in front of it on Mar 20 at 2:05 a.m.
Regulus is a bright star in the constellation Leo the Lion and it will disappear for about 15 seconds at 2:05 AM of Thursday March 20th EST.
The occultation of Regulus will be visible in Metro New York area and parts of New Jersey, Con-necticut, Ontario, and Bermuda Island. You
can view that phe-nomenon with naked eyes under clear skies by looking south-west at the constellation Leo. Find Regulus and keep an eye on it to see it disappearing completely for about 15 seconds be-fore it shows up again.

Constellation Leo in Greek Mythology
Hercules and the Lion of Nemea

Hercules, the Greek hero and half god, was not favored by his stepmother the goddess Hera. Hera made him lose his mind and kill his own wife and children. The gods made him serve Eurystheus, the king of Tiryns as a punishment. As part of his sentence, Hercules performed his famous twelve Labors.
Hercules’ first task was to bring the skin of the vicious lion which ter-rorized the land of Nemea to King Eurystheus. The lion took women hostages to its cave, luring warriors to save them, to their misfortune. The lion was known for its magical skin that arrows can’t  penetrate. Hercules went after the lion with his club. He trapped the lion in its cave and wres-tled it using his strong arms to choke the  fierce lion to death. He then skinned the lion and made a lion-skin cape. Hercules went back to king Eurystheus who was amazed that the hero had accomplished such an impossible task. Zeus, the king of gods, commemorated this labor by placing the Lion constellation in the sky.
On Earth, we can identify Hercules in ancient Greek artifacts as he is depicted wearing a lion skin.