Mark your calendars: March is filled with assortment of astronomy events
February brought an array of night sky events -- including a green comet -- and March’s celestial lineup won’t disappoint with plenty of upcoming easy-to-see astronomical sights.
From the changing seasons to planetary gatherings, here are the top astronomy events to mark down on your March 2023 calendar.
February was a busy month for stargazers with planetary alignments, a green comet flying past the Earth and even a fireball that scattered meteorites across Texas. The frenzied pace of astronomical events is expected to continue through March, and many events will be easy to observe for stargazers of all ages if the weather cooperates.
Spring can pose difficulties for stargazers across North America, as it is one of the cloudiest times of the year. However, when clouds break and clear conditions prevail it will bring about opportunities to spot the moon, planetary alignments and one of the most famous constellations in the night sky.
March 7: Full 'Worm' Moon
The final full moon of astronomical winter will rise on Tuesday, March 7, and like many full moons throughout the year, it has a nickname that can be traced back to the weather.
According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, March's full moon is often called the Worm Moon as earthworms begin to emerge from the warming soil. "Worms" can also refer to larvae that begin to emerge following the cold winter months.
In this March 9, 2020, file photo, the full moon rises behind the Statue of Liberty in New York. (AP Photo/J. David Ake, File)
Other nicknames for March's full moon include the Snow Crust Moon, Sugar Moon, Eagle Moon and Goose Moon.
March 20 at 5:24 p.m. EDT: Spring equinox
The equinox marks the changing of the seasons, and for folks across the Northern Hemisphere it signals the arrival of spring and when days begin to last longer than nights.
The equinox occurs at 5:24 p.m. EDT Monday, March 20, the latest start to astronomical spring since 2019. This differs from meteorological spring, which beings on March 1 every year.
On the equinox, the most direct rays from the sun are focused on the equator, resulting in roughly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness virtually everywhere around the world.
In the Southern Hemisphere, the March equinox marks the beginning of astronomical autumn.
March 26: Moon, Mars and Venus align
The last weekend of the month will be a great time for stargazing as the moon lines up with two planets in the evening sky.
In a similar fashion to the late-February alignment of the moon, Jupiter and Venus, stargazers who have a cloud-free sky after sunset on Sunday, March 26, will be able to see the crescent moon glow between Mars and Venus.
The astronomical show will continue during the month's final week as the moon appears side-by-side with Mars Monday, March 27, and Tuesday, March 28.
Onlookers can easily find the constellation Orion, which will appear in the western sky near the planets after nightfall.
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