... at a glance
March is the first month of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere and the month of the equinox when the day equals to the night. In March, the Sun sets from about 8pm at the beginning of the month and 7:15 at the end of the month and rises around 7am at the beginning of the month and 7:30 at the end of it. The real night (astronomical night) lasts about 7 hours. At sunset, the skyscape is marked by the stars of Orion and the Magellanic Clouds that are now on the western horizon.
The Pleiades are preparing for their journey to the underworld, leaving behind in the southern sky their doppelgänger, the Southern Pleiades. The Milky Way arches across the sky reaching zenith in the evening hours and there are some amazing binocular objects in the sky scattered among the stars between Orion and the Southern Cross.
The equinox falls on a Monday, the 21st of March around 3 PM.
The galactic centre is slowly coming back into the sky, rising as Orion sets.
Zodiacal constellations of the evening sky are: TAURUS, GEMINI, CANCER, LEO
Carina-Southern Cross region and the Large Magellanic Cloud are in a very good position to observe.
- Has the brightest stars in the night sky
- Is the month when for one day the night is equal to the day
- Autumn starts
- The days will become shorter than the nights after the equinox.
Last chance to observe
In the west, the Pleiades, Aldebaran and the Hyades are low on the horizon.
On the eastern horizon, look out for Corvus, and later on in the night for Virgo and later at night for Scorpius rising.
The constellation of Canis Major is high in the sky and around it is a bunch of fantastic deep sky objects. The first is the big open cluster known as M41. It’s 4 degree to the south of the bright star Sirius and a beautiful cluster to look at in both telescopes and binoculars. Towards the Milky Way from Canis Major you’ll find the two open clusters of M47 and M46 in the constellation of Puppis. M47 is the brighter of the two and a nice cluster to browse around. M46 is a bit fainter and looks fantastic in a telescope. If you a reasonable sized telescope you can also catch the planetary nebula NGC 2438, which looks like a little grey bubble towards the northern edge of the cluster. The Large Magellanic Cloud is getting higher in the evening sky putting the stunning Tarantula Nebula in a great position to view. This is an enormous nebula and you can spend ages exploring it and the surrounding features of the Large Magellanic Cloud.
If you want to check out some galaxies then the Fornax Cluster is still high enough to enjoy in the constellation called Fornax. Another nice galaxy to check out is between the two Magellanic Clouds in the Reticulum constellation, called NGC 1313 or the Topsy Turvy Galaxy. In a big telescope you’ll see quite a bit of structure in the spiral arms of this starburst galaxy.
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