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Watch the Moon find planets bright stars constellations easily March 17-31 2014

March 17-19, 2014 sky chart
March 17-19, 2014 sky chart
D. Tondreau

In the next two weeks the Moon will be observable in the pre-dawn sky making it convenient for all you early risers. The Moon will pass by Mars, Saturn, and Venus. The Moon also passes by the bright stars Arcturus, Spica, Altair, and Antares, and pass though the constellations Virgo, Libra , Scorpius, Ophiuchus (Off E U cus), Sagittarius, Capricornus and Aquarius. Note: This is based on information for Aurora, CO, but is close enough for use in other locations.

The Moon will go from Full Moon to New Moon (no moon visible) in the next two weeks. Watch how the Moon changes position and phase as it orbits the Earth. Observe the Moon thirty minutes to one hour before sunrise (approximately 6:10am to 6:45am MDT at month’s end) if you can. After a few days see if you can predict where the Moon will be in the sky and its phase the next day. It’s a pattern our forefathers knew well, but lost to most of us living in the modern lighted world. You might just be surprised on how easy it is.

March 17-23: The waning gibbous (gets smaller) phases. The Moon starts off as a Full Moon on the western horizon opposite the rising Sun in the east. Over the next six days the Moon’s phase will get smaller or wan as the Moon moves easterly toward the rising Sun.

March 17-19: The Moon is in the constellation Virgo the virgin. On March 18 a noticeably gibbous Moon is to the lower right of two bright stars. The brightest (upper) is Mars. Below Mars is Spica the brightest star in Virgo. Way above the Moon is the bright star Arcturus in Bootes the herdsman. On March 19 the Moon moves to the left of Spica and Mars providing a nice photo opportunity.

March 20-21: The Moon is in the constellation Libra the scales. There are no bright stars in Libra. On March 20 Saturn is above and to the left of the Moon. On March 21 the Moon moves left of Saturn. Note that the Moon, Saturn, and Mars make a straight line. Below and left of the Moon is the bright star Antares red super giant in the constellation Scorpius the scorpion. See if you can detect the red hue. If Antares were the Sun the Earth and Mars would be orbiting inside of it.

March 22- 23: The Moon enters the constellation Ophiuchus the serpent-bearer and thirteenth constellation of the Zodiac. Astrologically the Zodiac has only twelve. There are no bright stars in Ophiuchus. On March 23 the Moon is at third (or last) quarter or half-moon. At this phase the Moon is approximately in the same place in space the Earth and you will be in 3.5 hours. The Moon is roughly half way between Venus (lower left) and Saturn (upper right).

March 24-31: The waning crescent (gets smaller) phases. The Moon starts off as a Last Quarter Moon. Over the next five days the Moon’s crescent will get smaller as the Moon moves easterly diving toward the rising Sun.

March 24-25: A thinning Crescent Moon is in the constellation Sagittarius the archer. Sagittarius points the way to the center of our galaxy. To the lower left of the Moon is Venus. Well above Venus is Altair in the constellation Aqulia the eagle.

March 26: The Moon continues to wane to a thin crescent as it enters the constellation Capricornus, the goat. Venus is lower left of the Moon. There are no noticeably bright stars in Capricornus.

March 27: A thinner Crescent Moon is in the constellation of Aquarius the water bearer, and next to the Moon. There are no noticeably bright stars are in Aquarius.

March 28: The Moon is very close to the rising Sun. Below and a little left of the Moon is a difficult to see Mercury. There is a short window between 6:10am to 6:20am to find Mercury before the glare of the rising Sun washes out the planet.

March 29: The Moon is too close to the rising Sun to be observed.

March 30: Is New Moon and the cycle renews again. The Moon will appear in the early evening sky as a thin crescent following evening setting Sun within a day or two.

Wishing you clear skies