All hail the God of War! To the Romans Mars celebrated Mars in the month of March (Martius in Latin) root of many military words including martial. This month he reigns again as Mars reaches opposition (directly opposite the Earth on the same side of the Sun) and peak visibility over the next two months in its two year orbit. Through good binoculars or a small telescope you should be able to spot the larger features on its surface including the polar ice caps (the southern one is larger since its summer in the northern hemisphere).  With the naked eye Mars has a definite pinkish tint as it rises in the east at sunset. On the 8th of the month the full Moon passes just 10 degrees below Mars at 1:00 AM EST.

The rest of the visible planets will be putting on a show in the west just after sunset. On the 11th and 15th Jupiter and Venus will be within 3 degrees of each other and will light up the evening sky like a searchlight.

Saturn is a night owl this month rising in the east after 10PM. It will appear stunning as always in binoculars or telescope when it is high in the southeast after midnight.

Don’t forget to celebrate the vernal equinox with your Druid friends on the early morning of the 20th.

Thats all for this month. I will update the posting if someone interesting appears in the sky. The early days of March have been cold, windy and snowy at Balsam so have not gotten any sky time so far.

 

Jim Stratigos

Resident Astronomer