Some daily events in the changing sky for March 14 – 22.
Friday, March 14
Saturday, March 15
Sunday, March 16
Monday, March 17
Tuesday, March 18
Wednesday, March 19
Thursday, March 20
Friday, March 21
Saturday, March 22
Want to become a better amateur astronomer? Learn your way around the constellations. They're the key to locating everything fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope. For an easy-to-use constellation guide covering the whole evening sky, use the big monthly foldout map in each issue of Sky & Telescope, the essential magazine of astronomy. Or download our free Getting Started in Astronomy booklet (which only has bimonthly maps).
Once you get a telescope, to put it to good use you'll need a detailed, large-scale sky atlas (set of maps; the standards are Sky Atlas 2000.0 or the smaller Pocket Sky Atlas) and good deep-sky guidebooks (such as Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion by Strong and Sinnott, the even more detailed Night Sky Observer's Guide by Kepple and Sanner, or the enchanting though increasingly dated Burnham's Celestial Handbook). Read how to use them effectively.
More beginners' tips: "How to Start Right in Astronomy".
This Week's Planet Roundup
Mercury (magnitude +0.0) remains only about 2° from Venus very low before sunrise. It's dozens of times fainter, so bring binoculars. Look for it just to Venus's right early in the week, and to Venus's lower right later in the week.
Venus (magnitude –3.8, in Aquarius) is getting deeper down into the sunrise every morning. Look for it just above the east-southeast horizon about 20 or 30 minutes before sunup. Binoculars help.
(To find your local sunrise time, put your location and time zone into our online almanac. If you're on daylight saving time like most of North America, make sure the Daylight Saving Time box is checked.)
Mars (magnitude +0.5, near the feet of Gemini) shines high in the southwest during evening, high over Orion. In a telescope Mars dwindles from 8.0 to 7.6 arcseconds wide this week — quite tiny.
Jupiter (magnitude –2.0, in Sagittarius) shines in the southeast before and during dawn. The farther south you live, the higher you'll be able to observe it before dawn gets too bright.
Saturn (magnitude +0.3, close to Regulus in Leo) glows in the southeast during evening and stands highest in the south around 11 or midnight daylight saving time.
Fainter Regulus (magnitude +1.4) is now just 4° from Saturn: to its upper right in early evening, and directly right of it later at night. Watch them draw even closer together in the coming weeks. Only a little dimmer than Regulus is Gamma (γ) Leonis (magnitude +2.1), located 8° to Saturn's north.
Uranus and Neptune are hidden in the glow of dawn.
Pluto (magnitude 14.0, in northwestern Sagittarius) is well up in the south-southeast before dawn's first light.
All descriptions that relate to your horizon or zenith — including the words up, down, right, and left — are written for the world's mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude (mainly Moon positions) are for North America. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) equals Universal Time (UT, UTC, or GMT) minus 4 hours.
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