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Post Info TOPIC: March 2018


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March 2018
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Earths maximum southerly heliographic latitude is at 15:25 UT, 6th March 2018.

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Mars is 0.7° north of NGC 6309 on the 6th March 2018.



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Jupiter's maximum southerly declination (-17.414°) is at 00:35 UT, 6th March 2018.

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Mercury is 1°24' north of Venus at 18:29 UT, 5th March 2018.

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Neptune solar conjunction is at 13:32 UT, 4th March 2018.



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Mercury is close to Venus (separation 1.1°) at 05:40 UT, 4th March 2018.

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Full Moon is at 00:51 UT, 2nd March 2018.

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The Moon occults Regulus at ~06:00 UT, 1st March 2018.

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Watch out for sporadic meteors. Their rates for the Northern Hemisphere are now reaching a plateau. Expect around 12 random meteors per hour during the morning hours

ShowerActivity PeriodMaximumRadiantVelocityZHR
  DateR.A.Dec.km/s 
Delta LeonidsFeb 15-Mar 10Feb 2211:12+16°232
Beta LeonidsBroadMar 411.0h13.2°21.24.0
Alpha Virginids Mar 10176°+9° 2
Theta Virginids Mar 10176°+9° 2
Gamma Normids11 - 22Mar 1116.7-44.0°58.95.5
Gamma VirginidsJan 25 to April 15Mar 2512.05.7°22.24.6


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Highlights

Start of Spring

 

 

On the Vernal (Spring) Equinox, March 20th, the Sun moves north of the Earth's Equator. From the Vernal Equinox until the Autumnal Equinox, in September, the Sun will be in the Northern Hemisphere. On the Equinox, the Sun rises due East and sets due West. The festival of the Goddess Eostar, to whom the hare and the scarlet egg are sacred, takes place at the Vernal Full Moon.
From a very dark location at that time, look for the Zodiacal Light, a huge soft glowing column of light in the western horizon. It is the light of the Sun reflected off dust particles in the inner solar system. Its axis closely coincides with the ecliptic.

The Andromeda Galaxy 
The great Andromeda Galaxy ("M31") is clearly one of the most glorious and resplendent of all deep-sky objects, and is visible in the northern skies until about midnight. At 2 million light years distant its regarded as the furthest thing visible to the unaided eye and is frequently called a sister galaxy to our own. Easily witnessed as a fuzzy elongated patch 4 degrees long (8 times the diameter of the full Moon), it is one of the most famous objects in our sky. Now take a few minutes and imagine being on a planet in M31, gazing up one evening and you would likely see our home as a ghostly-elongated patch high above in the alien skies. M31 was the first object positively identified as being located outside the Milky Way. Previously the Universe was thought not to extend beyond our own Galaxy, and the galaxies were felt to be disk shaped clouds of gas, possibly in the process of forming a new solar system like our own. This discovery in 1926 complete redefined our understanding of the Universe, its size and our place in it. When you find the galaxy, hold out your hand and cover it up. You have just hidden an estimated 300 billion stars and at nearly 200,000 light years across it is one of the largest galaxies known. The whole mass slowly rotates around the central hub; the core takes about 11 million years while the outer arms 90 million years or more. There is a small satellite galaxy, M32 that orbits M31 similar to our own Magellanic Clouds visible in the Southern Hemisphere. 

Open cluster, M41 
Within the constellation Canis Major, the great dog, is a splendid star cluster called M41. Located just south of Sirius (the brightest star in the sky next to the Sun), it is a large naked eye object of about 100 stars. The cluster is moving away from us at around 20 miles/second and is said to be about 20 light years across. This is one of the few deep-sky objects to have been recorded by the ancients, being mentioned by Aristotle around 325 BC.

The Crab Nebula, M1
The famous Crab Nebula, M1. is nestled near the left horn of Taurus the Bull, you will find the Crab, so called due to its spindly, delicate appearance. Also known by the less romantic name of "M1", it was discovered in 1731, and is the remnant of the supernova of July 4, 1054 AD. Its hydrogen cloud is expanding at a rate of over 600 miles/second making it well over six light years across. M1 is home to one of the strongest x-ray sources known. Its source was traced to a neutron star, the first ever seen. A neutron star is the final remnant of a supernova which collapsed so tightly on itself that it is likely on the order of 6 miles in diameter yet with a density so great a single teaspoon full would be on the order of a 1000 million tons. This discovery of the Crab Nebula's central star was the first visible evidence of such a peculiar beast and only happened when after first being detected by radio. As the star collapsed it picked up a spin, and as it would get smaller the spin rate would increase, not at all unlike an ice-skater who spins faster when she holds her arms in close to her body. Combine this with several other extreme conditions; radio energy was shot out of the poles much like a beacon from a lighthouse in the depths of the night. In this case the lighthouse was flashing us once every 1.33 seconds. At first some astronomers felt that this might be a sign of extraterrestrial intelligence, but more rational heads prevailed once the star was visually detected and seen to flash on and off. Since then well over a hundred of these "pulsars" have been discovered, one flashing of the incredible rate of 30 times a second! At ninth magnitude, the Crab is probably too dim to see with binoculars but is clearly visible in modest telescopes.



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