This is the monthly Griffith Observatory Sky Report.
This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report for the period between March 1 and March 31, 2023. Here are the events happening in the sky of southern California.
Mercury rises at 5:56 a.m., PST, and the sun rises at 6:22 a.m., PST, on the 1st, 26 minutes later. On the 31, the sun sets at 7:13 p.m., PDT, and Mercury sets at 8:22 p.m., PDT, 69 minutes later. The planet is due west but only 13 degrees above the horizon at sunset. A magnification of 150x is needed to see its disk. Do not observe any planet when it comes close to the sun, for the danger to the eyes is great.
Venus is due west in the evening sky, about a third of the way up from the horizon. On the 1st, the sun sets at 5:49 p.m., PST, and Venus sets at 8:14 p.m., PST. The planet is 85-percent illuminated, 12 arcseconds wide, and is within 31 arcminutes of Jupiter. On the 31st, Venus sets at 10:13 p.m., PDT. The planet is 78-percent illuminated and 14 arcseconds wide.
Mars moves from Taurus the Bull to Gemini the Twins on the 26th. and is high overhead. On the 1st, Mars sets at 1:48 a.m., PST. On the 31st, Mars sets at 1:51 a.m., PDT. The planet is 90-percent illuminated and seven arcseconds wide. On the 29th, Mars is a degree and a quarter away from the large open star cluster M35 in Gemini.
Jupiter is in Pisces the Fishes. The planet is in the evening sky, due west and about a fifth of the distance from the horizon to the zenith. On the 1st, Jupiter sets at 8:14 p.m., PST, and on the 31st, the planet sets at 7:49 p.m., PDT. Jupiter is 34 arcseconds wide and nearly fully illuminated. A magnification of 50x will show the Red Spot, and the four bright Galilean moons may be seen moving back and forth, roughly in a line centered on Jupiter.
Saturn is in Aquarius the Water Bearer. The planet rises in the east-southeast at 5:57 a.m., PST. On the 31st, the planet rises at 5:09 a.m., PDT, and the sun rises at 6:42 a.m., PDT. A magnification of 50x is needed to see the rings and Saturn’s largest moon Titan.
Uranus is in Aries the Ram. On the 1st, Uranus sets at 10:55 p.m., PST, and sets at 10:03 p.m., PDT. On the 15th, Uranus is at Right Ascension 2h 54m 39s with a declination of +16° 19ʹ 20ʺ. Uranus is only 3.5 arcseconds wide, and a magnification of 150x is needed to show its diminutive disk.
Neptune moves from Aquarius the Water Bearer to Pisces the Fishes on the 5th. The planet is within 13 degrees of the sun during March and not observable.
Full moon occurs on the 7th, last quarter on the 14th, new moon on the 21st, and first quarter on the 28th.
Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday, March 12th, at 2:00 a.m. All clocks must be set forward one hour, according to the saying, “Spring forward, fall back.”
Spring begins in the earth’s northern hemisphere (and autumn in the southern hemisphere) at 2:24 p.m., PDT, on March 20. At this precise moment, when the sun reaches the point where the ecliptic crosses the celestial equator, it moves from south to north. The point where and the time when the sun crosses the celestial equator to the north is the vernal equinox. Spring ends with the summer solstice on June 21.
Lunar-X is visible on March 28. This is a small X-shaped feature just west of the terminator. The terminator is where the illuminated portion of the moon meets the portion of the moon in shadow. Lunar-X is only visible for a few hours, approximately from 10:00 p.m., PDT, to 12:00 a.m., PDT. The next opportunity to see it is on July 24th.
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