NASA has just shared its monthly skywatching tips for March, helping us to better understand exactly what we’re looking at when we gaze upward toward a sea of celestial bodies — provided it isn’t cloudy, that is.
Venus and Jupiter
At the start of this month, Venus and Jupiter appear close together in the night sky, and you can spot both with the naked eye. But as the days go by, the distance between the two planets will open up, with Venus climbing higher and Jupiter gradually heading in the opposite direction.
Jupiter will drop to such an extent that it’ll vanish from sight in the coming weeks. But in May it will return — in the pre-dawn sky — along with Saturn.
Moon and Venus
In its monthly update, NASA notes that on March 23 and 24, during the first couple of hours after sunset, the moon will be visible as a slim crescent close to Venus. On March 23 it appears just below the moon, while the very next night it’ll be just above. The following night, on March 25, the moon will its upward trajectory as viewed from Earth, appearing beside the brilliant Pleiades star cluster that evening.
With this month seeing crop planting and harvesting activities in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, respectively, NASA suggests the coming weeks as “a fitting time to try and spot the planet named for a mythical goddess of agriculture, grains, and fertile lands. (In addition to being the origin of the word ‘cereal.’)”
It’s talking about the dwarf planet Ceres, which sits in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, though as it’s only about 600 miles wide, you will need binoculars or a telescope to spot it. Check out NASA’s video at the top of this page to find out how.
To help you more easily locate planets and star formations, try one of these excellent smartphone apps for iPhone or Android devices.