Some daily events in the changing sky for March 7 15.
Comet Holmes is passing the big California Nebula in Perseus through about Wednesday the 12th. See photo and story.
Friday, March 7
Saturday, March 8
Sunday, March 9
Camelopardalis is home to the big, 9th-magnitude galaxy NGC 2403, which would be better known to backyard observers if it weren't in such an obscure constellation. The galaxy isn't hard to find, however. It's a fairly straightforward star-hop 8° from the nose of Ursa Major. See chart.
Monday, March 10
Tuesday, March 11
Wednesday, March 12
Thursday, March 13
Friday, March 14
Saturday, March 15
Want to become a better amateur astronomer? Learn your way around the constellations. They're the key to locating everything fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope. For an easy-to-use constellation guide covering the whole evening sky, use the big monthly foldout map in each issue of Sky & Telescope, the essential magazine of astronomy. Or download our free Getting Started in Astronomy booklet (which only has bimonthly maps).
Once you get a telescope, to put it to good use you'll need a detailed, large-scale sky atlas (set of maps; the standards are Sky Atlas 2000.0 or the smaller Pocket Sky Atlas) and good deep-sky guidebooks (such as Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion by Strong and Sinnott, the even more detailed Night Sky Observer's Guide by Kepple and Sanner, or the enchanting though increasingly dated Burnham's Celestial Handbook). Read how to use them effectively.
More beginners' tips: "How to Start Right in Astronomy".
This Week's Planet Roundup
Mercury (magnitude +0.0) remains within 3° of brilliant Venus low before sunrise. It's dozens of times fainter, so bring binoculars. Look for it just to Venus's right.
Venus (magnitude 3.8) is getting lower every morning. Look for it just above the east-southeast horizon about 30 minutes before sunrise.
Mars (about magnitude +0.4, near the feet of Gemini) shines very high in the south to southwest during evening, high over Orion. It fits in the same binocular field with the open star cluster M35. In a telescope, Mars dwindles from 8.5 to 8.0 arcseconds wide this week quite tiny.
Jupiter (magnitude 2.0, in Sagittarius) shines low in the southeast before and during dawn. The best time to examine it with a telescope is actually during dawn, when Jupiter is highest and when the atmospheric seeing may become steadiest. The farther south you live, the higher Jupiter will be.
Saturn (magnitude +0.2, close to Regulus in Leo) glows in the east-southeast as twilight fades. It rises higher all evening, and stands highest in the south around midnight daylight saving time.
Regulus (magnitude +1.4) is now just 4° from Saturn: to its upper right in early evening, and directly right of it later. Only a little dimmer than Regulus is Gamma (γ) Leonis (magnitude +2.1), located 8° to Saturn's north. The three make a narrow, eye-catching triangle. Watch the triangle get even narrower in the coming weeks.
Uranus and Neptune are hidden in the glare of the Sun. (Neptune is near Venus and Mercury, but it's too dim to see through the bright dawn even with a telescope.)
Pluto (magnitude 14.0, in Sagittarius) is in the southeast before dawn's first light.
All descriptions that relate to your horizon or zenith including the words up, down, right, and left are written for the world's mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude (mainly Moon positions) are for North America. Eastern Standard Time (EST) equals Universal Time (UT, UTC, or GMT) minus 5 hours. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) is UT minus 4 hours.
To be sure you always get the current Sky at a Glance, bookmark this URL:
If pictures fail to load, refresh the page.