March Skies

I have been remiss in posting this month due to being busy moving from our home in Atlanta into our new condo. Downsizing is a lot of work!

From the deck on our 19th floor condo we observed elusive Mercury last night around 8:00 PM EDT. It was below and to the right of Jupiter just above the sunset. Check it out this month as it climbs about a degree higher each day. By mid month it will be right up next to Jupiter. The last two weeks of March Jupiter gradually disappears into the sunset as Mercury continues to climb reaching its greatest angular separation from the Sun on March 22nd. By the end of the month, Mercury fades from view as it heads back toward the Sun.

Speaking of Mercury, be sure to watch for updates and photos from the Mercury Messenger mission. Its due to enter orbit around the first planet on the 17th.

Saturn is rising this month in the east after sunset. It will gradually get higher in the coming months.

Venus is hanging out in the early morning sky rising 2 hours before the Sun in early March.

At 2:10 PM EDT on March 20th the vernal equinox will occur. This is the time when Sun crosses the celestial equator and is the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

So until next month, turn out the lights go outside and enjoy the night sky at Balsam.

Jim Stratigos

Resident Astronomer

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