Culture

The Sky Above You – March 2021

By Duncan Lunan

The Moon will be New on March 13th, and it will be Full on March 28th.   That will be a ‘supermoon’, when the Moon is Full two days before its nearest to Earth.

The planet Mercury is in the morning sky at the beginning of the month, very close to Jupiter on the 5th  (17 arcminutes, little more than half the apparent diameter of the Moon), both rising about 5 a.m. with Saturn 12 degrees off to the right.  Mercury is at its greatest separation from the Sun on the 6th, and the Moon is near it on the 11th,but it will disappear into twilight by mid-March.

Venus is not visible in March, at superior conjunction beyond the Sun on the 26th

Mars continues to grow fainter in Taurus, passing the Pleiades in the first week of March and the Hyades on the 19th, with the Moon between them and closer to Mars.. 

China’s Tianwen-1 orbiter and Hope, the first interplanetary spacecraft from the United Arab Emirates, both successfully achieved orbit around the planet in mid-February, and on the 18th the USA’s Perseverance landed in the crater Jezero, which shows extensive signs of ancient flooding.  While searching for signs of ancient life, it’s intended to test a small helicopter, the first flying machine in the atmosphere of Mars, and to begin collecting samples for retrieval by a later probe.  Tianwen-1 will also set down a lander, in three months’ time, while Hope will study the atmosphere from orbit.

Vesta, the brightest of the asteroids, is in Leo, at opposition  (at its closest, due south at midnight), and makes a loop within the constellation during the month as it’s passed by the Earth.

Jupiter and Saturn are both in Capricornus, rising at 5.00 a.m. along with Mercury as above, with the Moon near them on the 9th and 10th.

Uranus in Aries  sets around 10 p.m. in March, near the Moon on the 17th.   

Neptune is not visible this month, at superior conjunction beyond the Sun on the 11th and passed by the New Moon on the 13th.

Copy of map to download:

My space travel stories, old and new, have been collected and published by Other Side Books as From the Moon to the Stars, relating to the Moon and Project Apollo, and The Other Side of the Interface, with a wider scope.   Both have illustrations by Sydney Jordan, and are available through Amazon or through bookshops.  Details of them and my other booksare on my website, www.duncanlunan.com.

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