Hi - Here is the SkyCalendar (Arizona) Update for March 2013; Thanks for visiting!
The previously published March HighLite (Messier Marathon) on 09 March has been changed to : optional MM at the Blue Marvel Observatory (Gary Grue) and Member Star Party. Another MM, and MSP date has been set for Saturday, April 6, at Bob & Barb Kepple's observatory in Palominas, which is named: Desert Starlight Observatory (DSO).
Update on March astronomical events:
Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4): As of the last day of February, this comet is still only visible from the southern hemisphere. But in early March, it should become visible for folks in the northern hemisphere low in the western skies after evening twilight. On March 5, it will reach its perigee point (closest to Earth) at just over 1 AU (Astronomical Unit), and on March 10 (UT) it will pass closest to the Sun (perihelion) at around 0.30 AU ! If it survives that milestone, it should be quite visible for northern observers from March 12 to March 17. Also in early March, it MAY reach magnitude -0.2 and then begin to fade. Many questions still have to be answered about its perihelion passage. Both Sky & Telescope magazine and Astronomy magazine have more articles on this comet, and on their websites.
Comet Lemmon (C/2012 F6). The comet is currently coursing its way on the Tucana the Toucan constellation. Not visible in the northern hemisphere - unfortunately.
Monday, March 11 (1251 hrs, MST): New Moon, start of Lunation #1116
Thursday, March 14; Public Astronomy Night at Patterson Observatory in Sierra Vista"
Sunset is at 6:29 pm; Come on out and observe or assist!
Saturday, March 16: BIG Astronomy Night at Kartchner Caverns State Park; this gets underway
in the afternoon with Solar Viewing, but there is also an 'astro' talk in the early
evening, and great dark sky viewing in the evening! Bring the family and a
telescope and join other members of the HAC and other clubs, out under the stars.
Sunday, March 17:
The Moon and Jupiter get close (about 1.4 degrees) at around 7 pm. This should be a pretty sight.
Wednesday, March 20:
Vernal Equinox, 4:02 am (0402 hrs. MST); Spring starts in the northern hemisphere.
Friday, March 22:
The HAC monthly meeting, starts at 7 pm; at Cochise College.
Sunday, March 31: Easter Sunday
A free star map for March, 2013 can be downloaded at http://www.skymaps.com/downloads.html
From Dave Mitsky's great blog (found at "Cloudy Nights Telescope Reviews"):
"Saturn retrogrades through Libra this month. The tilt angle of its rings during March is 19 degrees. Its equatorial diameter is 18.3 arc seconds at midmonth. Saturn rises at 11:00 p.m. local time and transits the meridian at 4:00 a.m. local time at midmonth. The waning gibbous Moon passes three degrees south of the Ringed Planet during daylight on March 2 and March 29. Click on http://www.curtrenz.com/saturn for a wealth of information on Saturn. Eight-magnitude Titan is positioned north of Saturn on the nights of March 12 and March 28 and south of the planet on March 4 and March 20. Iapetus is nine arc minutes from Saturn when it reaches greatest western elongation on March 13."
As Always, the night sky is so magnificent to explore and to discover. How many of the 88 constellations can you remember to name - and view?
Comments and suggestions always welcome !!
Until next month - Clear Skies, Doug Snyder
ARIZONA SKY-CALENDAR UPDATE FOR FEBRUARY 2013
by Doug Snyder (C/2002 E2)
Note: Unless otherwise noted, all dates and times are shown in Arizona’s Mountain Standard Time – NOT in Universal Time (U.T.) nor in Eastern Time (E.T.). MST is behind UT by 7 hours.
Additional details of the monthly calendar HIGHLITE for February: Mercury and Mars close on Feb. 8:
These two planets are within ½ degree of each other in the evening sky towards the west and with Mercury just to the north of Mars. Look for this pairing shortly after sunset, as both planets will be low in the west and don’t ‘stay up’ too long themselves. Mercury will be at magnitude -1.0 and Mars at +1.2
What may be a second Highlite for the month is the pass of a small NEA (Near Earth Asteroid) on Friday, Feb. 15. This event is covered in more detail a few lines down.
Wednesday, Feb. 6: planetary conjunction: Mars, Mercury and Neptune close, in western skies, shortly before sunset. In Aquarius – good luck viewing this conjunction! Mars is ‘on-top’ with Mercury and Neptune side-by-side just below Mars.
Saturday, Feb. 9: HAC member star party: Where ever this event is held, it will probably get underway at about 6pm or 6:30pm. As of this writing, it is possible that the star party will be at the ‘Desert Coyote Observatory’ (DCO), located north of Hwy. 90 and just east of Sierra Vista – VERY dark skies! We thank our host in advance!
Sunday, Feb. 10: New Moon; this is the start of lunation #1115
Thursday, Feb. 14: Astronomy Night (Public) at Patterson Observatory: This outreach event is becoming quite popular in the community, and Sierra Vista metro area astronomers are encouraged to lend their support by attending and sharing their knowledge and love of the Arizona night skies! There will be a very nice 18% illuminated crescent Moon that evening. And probably more celestial wonders!
Friday, Feb. 15: Fly-by of NEA 2012 DA14 (Telescopic event): This object, estimated to be only about 50 meters in diameter (155 ft.), is predicted to come within about 18,000 miles of the Earth’s surface. At its closest approach (favoring the night skies of Eastern Europe, then into Asia), it may reach 8th magnitude. But for our local Arizona skies, its passage through the northern sky constellations of Ursa Major, Draco, Camelopardalis and Ursa Minor, the magnitude will have decreased down to 11th, 12th, and 13th, as well as its velocity through space ( a max. of near ¾ of a degree per MINUTE!). A favorable time for our Arizona viewing is from about 7pm on Feb. 15 (NEA in Camelopardalis at mag. 12) to about 5am on Feb. 16 (NEA in Draco at mag. 14). To acquire your own ephemeris, I recommend visiting the JPL Horizon’s web interface at: http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/horizons.cgi?s_time=1#top and using your location coordinates (or use your observatory code, which I always use mine [code 925]). The February 2013 Sky & Telescope issue has a informative article regarding this NEA on page 51.
Saturday, Feb. 16: Mercury reaches Greatest Elongation East (18.1° from Sun) at 2pm, and its angular size in the evening western skies is 7” (arc-seconds).
Friday, Feb. 22: HAC General Meeting: This gets underway at 7 pm, and the meeting place is the Student Union room at Cochise College.
Wednesday, Feb. 27: A two-week period of the Zodiacal Light begins in the western evening skies after twilight. This can be a noticeable soft pyramid of ‘whitish light’ with its base near the horizon.
Reminder: There are ALWAYS exciting and unusual sky phenomena happening in our visible universe whether WE know it or see it; make your discovery tonight! These Arizona updates are just a fraction of observable sky events! Your feedback is always welcome. THANK YOU & CLEAR SKIES UNTIL NEXT MONTH – Doug (email@example.com)
Welcome to my blog. Please check back soon for new entries and updates for the SkyCalendar 2013! Don't hesitate to leave favorable or unfavorable comments or suggestions to improve my efforts - they are all appreciated!
Have a wonderful day & night.