Star Calendar – March 2017

Star Calendar

March 2017

 

Star Calendar Planets:

Moon cycles determine, or play a role in, some calendars such as the Islamic and Hebrew. The Islamic year is strictly lunar while the Hebrew is a hybrid luni-solar that inserts extra months so that the seasons don’t drift too far. The Hebrew year begins with Nissan. It commemorates the emancipation of the Jewish people from bondage in Egypt (Exodus) and Passover (whilst Rosh Hashanah commemorates the birth of the World). The Crucifixion is recorded in relationship to Passover and Easter is placed in such a way as to respect this correspondence. This year Nissan begins at sundown on the 27th of March, 15 Nissan (beginning of Passover) on the evening of April 11, and Easter on April 12. This year both Western and Eastern traditions correspond to the same day.

Mercury crosses the far side of the Sun and then appears already on the 18th next to Venus in evening.

Venus is now nearer to Earth than to the Sun as she streaks from evening to morning. On the 25th Venus is more than twice as far from the Sun than from the Earth – the ratio being just about 5:2. Venus begins the month stationary to the stars, then rapidly departs and crosses the nearside of the Sun by the 25th. She will be seen in the pre-dawn east already in early April.

Sun is rapidly increasing its presence in the sky by adding almost 3 minutes of daylight to each day. Of course, as we gain an abundance of daylight – the Govt. must naturally order us to start “saving” it.

Mars is seen to the right of the crescent Moon on the evenings of the 1st and again on the 30th.

Jupiter begins March near Spica and we can watch him move, retrograde, back away from Spica as the month proceeds. The pair rises about two hours after sunset and is joined by the Moon on the 14th.

Saturn slows his slow shuffle – that is so slow that he lingers in each seasonal quarter of the sky for over 7 years.

Star Calendar Days:

1 Sunrise/set in Spring Valley at 6:30/17:47 (11h17m daylight)
    Day number 60; about 1/6 of the year has passed
    Moon to left of Mars at dusk in west
    Moon and Venus in same crescent phase (use binoculars) as they set

2 Venus stationary to stars, prepares for dash across near side of Sun (25th)

4 Moon approaches to very near Aldebaran, dusk to midnight

6 Mercury crosses the far side of the Sun; superior conjunction

10 Moon moves away from Regulus this evening

11-12 Absent an Executive Order from the President, American clocks shift forward
      Full Crow, Worm, or Sap Moon at 10:54AM Daylight Shifted Time

14 Day 73 number; about 1/5 of the year has passed – and it’s Pi-day too
      Moon, Jupiter and Spica appear together at 10:PM ESE

16-17 Etymological equinox = equal night; Sun is down 12 hours and zero minutes

18- Mercury appears to left of Venus in gloaming – perfect Western view at 8:PM

20 Astronomical equinox at 6:29 – Sun’s center crosses celestial equator
      Sunrise/set in Spring Valley at 6:59/19:09 (12h10m daylight)
      Moon above Saturn around 6:AM, they culminate at sunrise

25 Venus streaks across near side of Sun; inferior conjunction

27-28 New Moon begins Hebrew month of Nisan – that places Passover and Easter

31 Sunrise/set in Spring Valley at 6:41/19:20 (12h39m daylight)
      Day number 90; nearly ¼ of the year has passed
      Enjoying the additional 1 hour and 22 minutes of daylight?

Star Calendar – March 2016

Star Calendar

March 2016

Star Calendar Planets:

Moon makes a less dramatic swing from standing to lying crescent either side of New Moon this year. Firstly the tilt of the lunar path from the ecliptic is currently one that subtracts its obliquity from the equator, secondly, this month’s syzygies fall near the nodes – there are two eclipses this month (neither visible from the U.S.). Still it is worth noting the more upright old Moon before dawn on the 6th/7th and the contrasting higher, reclining, earthshine-glowing young evening Moon on the 9th/10th. The tilt-drama is increasing from a minimum last year, next peaking in 2025.

Mercury is getting brighter but nearer the Sun – so we must imagine him receding and crossing behind the Sun this month. Next month will afford a better evening showing than this has bee, even though his excursion is of a smaller angle.

Venus is now pretty low just before dawn – but bright enough to see yet; beside the Moon on the 7th especially.

Sun is in the sky about 2 ¾ minutes longer each day this month and is high enough at noon to be beneficial on the skin.

Mars and Saturn are night-long beacons as they approach their oppositions. Saturn is nearly as bright (to the left) but watch Mars increase to equal Jupiter’s brilliance by late May. The increase is due to the dramatic approach he makes. As March opens he is farther away than is the Sun, by the 2nd week, equal distant as the Sun, by month’s end, ¾ the Sun’s distance, and at opposition, only half as distant as the Sun.

Jupiter nearest and brightest now, but varies much less than does Mars! He is King of the Night for this month anyway, up from dusk ‘til dawn, and shining far brighter than any other star or planet.

Saturn, Antares, Mars and Moon make a quartet before dawn on the 1st. Saturn is also increasing in brilliance, but, characteristically, very slowly, hardly discernible to the eye during March anyway.

Equinox is an astronomical event that occurs at the moment the center of Sun’s disk crosses the celestial equator. That instant is on the 20th in all of Asia, Europe and Africa, but would be on the 19th in all of the U.S. were NOT the clocks fiddled with for so-called Daylight Savings (sic). So the equinox is on the 20th for Day-lighters in the Eastern time zone, but on the 19th for Central Time and points West.

Star Calendar Dates:

1      Moon between Mars and Saturn, and above Antares; high in S at 6:AM

          Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 6:30/17:48 EST (11h18m daylight)

2      Moon near Saturn in the AM hours

7      Moon near Venus, ESE around 6:AM

8      Jupiter in opposition, nearest and brightest for year, and mid-loop

9-10   Hilal before Easter, (how œcumenical!) Young Grail Moon, West after sunset

10      Perigee one day after syzygy, large-ish spring tide

13      Much of U.S. pushes clocks forward an hour; also Palm Sunday

14      Since Pi=3.14159…, 3/14/16 is a better approxi-Pi-date than last year’s

15      2059 years since Caesar was rendered unto… the Ides

16      Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 7:05/19:05 EDT (12h daylight, = night)

19      Daylight lengthens most rapidly, nearly 3 minutes/day

20      Equinox at 00:30PM, Sun crosses celestial equator

21-22 Moon with Jupiter all night

23      Full Sugaring Moon at 8:01, sets just before entering penumbra of Earth’s shadow

          Mercury passes the backside of the Sun, superior conjunction

25      Saturn turns retrograde, approaches, begins loop for a June opposition

27      Summer Time begins in Europe

          Easter for Western churches, Eastern falls on May 1 (=April 18 Julian)

28      Moon over Mars midnight to dawn

29      Moon over Saturn midnight to dawn

31      Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 6:40/19:21 (12h41m daylight)

Star Calendar – March, 2015

Star Calendar

March 2015

Star Calendar Planets:

Moon casts a perigee-large shadow on the earth, a total solar eclipse, just as the spring Sun rises at the north pole – after a 6-month night. Technically it is a near-miss – but the fact of atmospheric refraction makes the apparent, observable sun rise earlier than it would in a vacuum. It is during this smeared image of the Sun that a “green flash” can occur – it would be interesting to look for this phenomenon with the altered, diminished and very slowly rising Sun near totality. Will anyone trek to the polar regions for this? The path of total eclipse first traverses the mid-Atlantic on a northward track that crosses the Faeroes and Svalbard before terminating at the North Pole. A large region of partial eclipse will cross much of the Atlantic, Greenland, North Africa, Europe and Siberia. The eclipse will end at both sunrise and sunset for areas either side of the pole!

Mercury is too low in the morning to see. A tall, standing crescent Moon will rise (probably not visible either) to his left on the 19th at 6:30AM

Venus pulls away from Mars and slowly ascends with each evening appearance. A young crescent Moon will sit beside her on the evening of the 22nd.

Sun still malingers weak in spots as February closed. There remain indications of a future prolonged period of low sunspot activity – that is, there is a paucity of the usual indicator of future sunspots in polar gestation. Oh yes, and it’s SPRING! I expect our botanical spring to be rapid since the ground is already thawed out under the thick snow.

Mars is slowly losing ground to the overtaking Sun in the evening. He hosts a beautiful Grail Moon (the young, cup-like crescent that appears before Easter) on the 21st.

Jupiter is now recovering in “post-op(position)”. He remains the compliment to Venus in the evenings, holding forth in the east while she dominates the west. The Moon appears nearby twice this month, on the nights of the 2nd/3rd and the 29th/30th.

Saturn is so astonished at the calendar, when it happens to read like 5 digits of Pi (in MM/DD/YY format), that he stands still (stationary to stars) on the 14th, and begins to move backward (retrograde). Saturn rises awkwardly late these days, around midnight, and has a dawdling culmination in morning twilight, low in the deep-winter region of Scorpio. Continue reading