Jupiter is at its highest position in the evening sky as darkness falls. The planet is very high up in the South as night falls. The planet dim down a bit but is still in an excellent position for evening observations especially with a telescope. Jupiter is at the peak of its northerly sky position for our viewing area.
Mars rises about 4 hours after Sunset in the SE. The planet has a dramatic rise in brightness as the month progresses. Mars is also making dramatic gains in its earlier rise time each evening. The planet is moving toward its spring time apparition. The planet is now large enough to show some surface details in a good planetary scope. This is the start of our short Mars observing window.
Saturn makes the switch into the evening sky this month. By midmonth, the planet manages to rise just before Midnight in the SSE. Saturn brightens up a tad as the month progresses.
Venus rules the morning sky. The planet still manages to rise just before Dawn breaks in the ESE. The planet dims down as the month progresses but is still quite bright. Unfortunately Venus doesn't get that high in the sky before Dawn's light overtakes the planet.
Mercury rises much later after Venus in the ESE. The planet is to the far lower left of Venus. Mercury is rising in the ESE in the bright Dawn's light. This is a terrible appearance of Mercury because of its low altitude and being stuck in the bright Dawn's light. The planet will be very difficult to find and see during the 1st 15 days of the month. After that Mercury moves into the bright glow of Sunrise and is lost from view.
7 Mar Jupiter above Moon, Evening
13 Mar Moon below bright star Regulus, Late Evening
17-18 Mar Moon, Mars, and bright star Spica form a rough triangle, Late Evening
20 Mar Saturn close to Moon, around Midnight; Spring Equinox
27 Mar Crescent Moon just left of Venus, Dawn (Nice View)
Jupiter – Moon Evening Show:
The Moon and Jupiter position themselves nicely for an excellent evening presentation on the 6th -10th March. Both Jupiter and the Moon are at their highest position in the sky in over a decade. The 1st Quarter Moon on 8 March is especially favorable for observations. The views of the Moon and Jupiter in a good planetary telescope should be quite spectacular.
Asteroid to Occultate Regulus
For some of our viewers in a narrow band in New York State, there may be a rare chance to see an asteroid block or occultate the bright star Regulus. Regulus is the brightest star in the Constellation of Leo the Lion. In the morning of 20 March; within a few minutes either side of 2:05 am EDT. The Asteroid 163 Erigone will pass in front of Regulus and block its light for perhaps up to 14 seconds. The asteroid will not be seen by the unaided eye or by small telescope but the light blocked from Regulus will be seen by the unaided eye.
The very narrow band of this occultation covers New York City and runs Northwest between Albany and Binghamton, NY and continues just to the East of Rochester, NY. This is the 1st time in recorded history that such an oblivious asteroid occultation will block out the light from such a bright star. The chances of this prediction coming to be are about 70%. There is some uncertainty in the exact path of the asteroid occultation, so the narrow band may shift a little on way or another.
A website at www.occultations.org/Regulus2014 will have much more information and updates about this very rare event.
The "Red Planet" presents us with a short observing window from March –May 2014. This is not the best observing window for two reasons: 1) The planet will be low in the sky and could easily be affected by atmospheric conditions. 2) The planet's approach to Earth is not that close so the apparent size of the planet is small. Despite these factors, a good planetary telescope can show Mars North Polar Cap and some surface markings. Next month, the planet will be closest to the Earth than it has been in the last 5 years. At that time the planet will brighten up a bit and appear a bit larger in a telescope.
Gary T. Nowak
Vermont Astronomical Society
PO Box 4508