March 2024 – What’s Up!

Week of 25th March

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 20:25 UT at the start of the week and at 21:38 BST by the end of the week.
  • The clocks change on Sunday, moving forwards one hour at 1am to enter British Summer Time (BST), which is GMT +1.
  • Mercury (0.0) reaches its highest altitude of just over 16° on Monday. Spot the planet in the west after sunset, which is at 18:29 UT.
  • Hunt down Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks (+5.5) in Pisces, about 20° above the western horizon at 19:30 UT. You will need a telescope or binoculars to find it.
  • The Moon is Full on Monday – the Worm Moon.
  • The Sun currently has 7 active regions and the sunspot number is 146.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 18th March

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 20:11 UT at the start of the week and at 20:23 UT by the end of the week.
  • The Spring Equinox is on Wednesday 20th March – apparently a day early! The leap year has moved it from the more usual 21st March. The Sun will cross the celestial equator moving northwards, day and night will be equal, and the Sun will rise due East and set due West. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the Equinox marks the beginning of Spring.
  • Mercury (-0.9) is creeping higher in our evening sky as it approaches Greatest Eastern Elongation on Sunday. Spot the planet at an altitude of around 15° in the west just after sunset – take care of the setting Sun if using binoculars.
  • Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks continues to brighten as it approaches perihelion on the 21st April and is now about mag +5.9, find it in Pisces 15° above the northwestern horizon after sunset.
  • The Moon is Waxing Gibbous all week.
  • The Sun currently has 5 active regions and the sunspot number is 67.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

Week of 11th March

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 19:57 UT at the start of the week and at 20:09 UT by the end of the week.
  • Jupiter (-2.1) and Uranus (+5.8) are both in the western evening sky in Aries.
  • Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is brightening as it approaches perihelion on the 21st April. It is mag +6.6, so use binoculars to find it in Andromeda close to the northwestern horizon after sunset.
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Sunday.
  • The Sun currently has 6 active regions and the sunspot number is 99.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

Week of 4th March

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 19:44 UT at the start of the week and at 19:55 UT by the end of the week.
  • Jupiter (-2.2) sets at around 23:00 UT this week. The evenings are ever lighter as we approach the Equinox, so observing opportunities for Jupiter are rapidly decreasing now.
  • This week is the best time to attempt the Messier Marathon with the New Moon at the weekend. Try and observe as many of the 110 objects in the Messier catalogue over the course of a single night, starting with M74 at about 20:00, through to M73 at around 06:00. Good luck!
  • The Moon is New on Sunday.
  • The Sun currently has 6 active regions and the sunspot number is 91.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).