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The Night Sky in March

Nature volume 139, pages 365366 (27 February 1937) | Download Citation



DURING March, the duration of night in the latitude of London decreases by nearly two hours. On March 21d lh the sun enters the sign Aries (Spring Equinox). The moon is new on March 12d 19.5h and full on March 26d 23.2h. No bright stars are occulted during the month, but the following disappearances may be noted: 108 Tauri (mag. 6.2) on March 18d 19h 39.0m when the moon is 6 days old, and e Leonis (mag. 5.1) on March 25d 21h 54.4m, the moon being 13 days old. The planet Venus, which does not set until about 22h, is a striking object and reaches its greatest brilliancy on March 12; the area of the illuminated crescent is then 0.28 that of the whole apparent disk. Mercury, being in superior conjunction with the sun. on March 16, is not accessible to observation. Mars rises at about midnight and is about 1 ° preceding the third magnitude star, (3 Scorpii. The planet brightens during the month from +0.4m to–0.3m, its greatest brightness being reached in May. Jupiter, of stellar magnitude –1.6 to –1.7, will be found low down in the morning sky. Saturn, being in conjunction with the sun on March 16, is above the horizon almost wholly in daytime. On March 8, Neptune (mag. 7.7) in Leo is in opposition; the planet's distance from the earth will then be nearly 2,714 millions of miles. The zodiacal light may be looked for on clear evenings after sunset at the beginning and end of the month. On or about March 3 and March 30, the night sky may also be scanned for any appearance of the aurora; auroras were observed 27 and 54 days earlier in northern England and Scotland respectively, and this 27-day sequence may possibly be continued in March. In any event, auroral displays may now be looked for generally on account of the active state of the sun, and there is also a higher frequency of magnetic disturbances at about the equinoxes. The following positions at Oh U.T. of Comet Whipple (1937 b) are given in Circular No. 636 of the Bureau Central des Telegrammes Astronomiques:

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