ASTRO LOG: YOUR MARCH 2019 SKY AT A GLANCE

ASTRO LOG: YOUR MARCH 2019 SKY AT A GLANCE

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Avid sky-watchers and dedicated astronomy enthusiasts in the United Arab Emirates can bid goodbye to biting cold nights as March ushers in the beginning of spring.

With temperatures beginning to warm, staying outdoors at night will definitely be more enjoyable,especially during this month when the night sky has so much in store for its patrons.

Mark the 21st of March on your calendars, as the last of the Supermoon trifecta for this year will grace the night sky.

This astronomical wonder will also coincide with the Spring Equinox, which signals the beginning of longer days and shorter nights for us in the Northern Hemisphere.Expect the Sun to rise as early as 6:15 AM to 6:45 AM and to go down at around 6:24 PM to 6:38 PM.

There will also be a number of planetary conjunctions with the Moon in March. Watch out for the planets Mars, Uranus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus, which can be all seen with an unaided eye at night. Mercury and Neptune will also prance the sky, but will be barely, or probably will not be visible at all because of their closeness to the Sun.

Of course, what is a night sky without the much-sought after constellations and deep-sky objects? The early evening hours will be embellished by a canvas of nebulae in the Orion constellation (Great Orion, Flame, and Horsehead Nebulae) and the brilliant open star cluster Pleiades known as the “Seven Sisters” in Taurus. As the night progresses, multiple galaxies such as the Bode and Cigar in the constellation Ursa Major, as well as the Leo Triplet, will also be seen.

Notable star patterns like the Winter Triangle and Winter Hexagon can be spotted up in the sky, too!

Venus, Mars and Jupiter taken from Al Sadeem Observatory (Image Credit: AldrinGabuya/ Al Sadeem Astronomy)

Orion Nebula, Flame & Horsehead Nebula, Bode and Cigar Galaxy, Leo Triplet taken from Al Sadeem Observatory (Image Credit: Thabet Al Qaissieh, AldrinGabuya/ Al Sadeem Astronomy)

For a detailed list of sky events this month, we’ve prepared a rundown for you below. All dates and times were given in UAE local time.

March 2, 2019: Moon – Saturn Conjunction

At 4: 15 A.M, the Moon and the ringed planet Saturn will appear close to each other at the east-southeastern horizon of the sky. The Waning Crescent Moon will be 2.5°southwest of Saturn, which will appear to be a bright-yellow orange star.Also seen near the pair are planets Venus (a little southwest) and Jupiter (at the far northeast). All celestial objects will be situated in the constellation Sagittarius (The Archer).

Illustration of the Moon-Saturn Conjunction on March 2, 2019 at around 5:30 AM (not to scale) (Graphic Courtesy of Stellarium)

March 3, 2019: Moon – Venus Conjunction

At the east-southeastern horizon of the sky, the Moon and the brilliant“morning star” Venus will appear near each other in the constellation Capricornus (The Goat). The Waning Crescent Moon, which is 2° south of Venus, will be seen from 5 AM until sunrise. Also seen nearby are planets Jupiter that seems to be a bright white “star” situated at the far northeast of the pair, and Saturn, which comes into view as a brilliant yellow-orange “star” situated slightly higher to the northeast of the pair.

Illustration of the Moon-Venus Conjunction on March 3, 2019 at around 5:30 AM (not to scale) (Graphic Courtesy of Stellarium)

March 6, 2019: New Moon

No Moon will be seen on this day, as it will be situated on the same side of the Earth as the Sun, specifically in the constellation of Aquarius (The Water Bearer). With no moonlight swamping much of the night sky, this day is the best time to observe the deep sky objects. It is predicted that the lunar phase will occur on this day. However, the month transition from Djumada l-Akhira to Radjab shall take place two days later (March 8) in accordance to the Hijri Calendar 1440.

March 11, 2019: Moon – Mars Conjunction

It’s the Red Planet’s turn to be close to the Moon. At 7 PM, the pair will be seen at the western horizon until the pair sets at around 10 PM. These celestial objects will be situated in the constellation Aries (the ram). The Waxing Crescent Moon will be about 5.3° West of Mars. Mars would look like a bright reddish dot.

Illustration of the Moon-Mars Conjunction on March 11, 2019 at around 7:30 PM (not to scale) (Graphic Courtesy of Stellarium)

March 21, 2019: Full (Super) Moon

The Moon in its full phase will be at its perigee—or its distance closest to the Earth, making it appear approximately seven percent bigger and 16 percent brighter than the usual full Moon. This is the third and last in the “Supermoon Trilogy,” or the three consecutive occurrences of Supermoons for 2019. The exact occurrence of the Full Moon phase will occur on this day at 5:44 AM, UAE Time which makes this phase visible between March 20-21, 2019.

Because of its full illumination during this phase, it will not be a good time for deep-sky observation with Moon’s glaring light obscuring most of the faint celestial objects.

The Full Moon taken from Al Sadeem Observatory last February 20, 2019 (Image Credit: Al Sadeem Astronomy)

A comparison of ordinary full Moon with a Supermoon, or a full Moon at perigee (Image Credit: Aldrin Gabuya/Al Sadeem Astronomy).

March 21, 2019: March Equinox

Diagram illustrating Earth’s Orientation during the March Equinox (Image Credit: eclipsegeeks.com)

On this day, the Earth’s axis is not tilted towards nor away from the Sun. This results in an approximate equal duration of day and night in all areas of the Earth (about 12 hours). During this period, the Sun lies perpendicular to the Earth’s equator, and it will appear to rise and set exactly from due east and west respectively; while at the Equator, the Sun will be directly overhead at noon. This marks the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. The March Equinox, or Vernal Equinox, will happen at 1:58 AM (UAE Time), when the Sun directly crosses the celestial equator.Following the Equinox, daytime will gradually take longer for the Northern Hemisphere, while nighttime will start to get shorter for the Southern Hemisphere.

Satellite Imagery of Earth at March Equinox (Image Credit: EUMETSAT)

March 27, 2019: Moon – Jupiter Conjunction

The Moon-Jupiter pair will be situated in the faint constellation of Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer), and they will be specifically spotted at the east-southeastern part of the sky from 1 AM until sunrise. The Waning Gibbous Moon will be about 2.2° north-northwest of the colossal gaseous planet.

Illustration of the Moon-Jupiter Close Approach on March 27, 2019 at around 2:30 AM (not to scale) (Graphic Courtesy of Stellarium)

March 29, 2019: Moon – Saturn Conjunction

At 2:20 AM, the Moon and the planet Saturn will appear close to each other at the east-southeastern part of the sky, with the Waning Crescent Moon situated at 1.6°’ northeast of the ringed planet. Also seen nearby the pair are planets Venus and Jupiter. All celestial objects will be situated in the constellation Sagittarius (The Archer).

Illustration of the Moon-Saturn Conjunction on March 29, 2019 at around 4:30 AM (not to scale) (Graphic Courtesy of Stellarium)

References

Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events 2019. (n.d.). Retrieved from Sea and Sky: www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy-calendar-2019.html

Calendar of Astronomical Events. (n.d.). Retrieved from In-The-Sky.org: http://in-the-sky.org/newscal.php?year=2019&month=3&maxdiff=4#datesel

Islamic calendar 2019. (n.d.). Retrieved from Calendar.sk: https://calendar.zoznam.sk/islamic_calendar-en.php?ly=2019

Sunrise and sunset times in Abu Dhabi, March 2019. (n.d.). Retrieved from timeanddate.com: https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/united-arab-emirates/abu-dhabi?month=3&year=2019

 

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