Monthly Notes

March 1, 2023

I observed the COMET a few times in January/February with binoculars but it was mainly a bust, especially for the average person—never visible to the naked eye. We have had a real dry spell of big and visible comets for a good 20 years or so.

March 2023 is NOT going to be a good month for observing Jupiter or Saturn or even Mars. Saturn is still close to the Sun but peeks out in the early morning just before the Sun rises, placing it low in the eastern sky where it will appear blurry in any telescope because its light has to pass through more tuburlent atmosphere than when it is higher up (better views start when the planets are about 1/4 to 1/3 up from the horizon to the top of the sky (zenith). Now, Jupiter is getting lower in the sky after sunset as the month progresses and will be too close to the Sun by the end of March to see it in the night sky. In late April, it will slowly become visible in the eastern morning sky before the Sun rises but being low in the sky, it will be blurry in a telescope. Mars, in Taurus, is still high up this month in the night sky but it is fairly small in a telescope compared to just a few months ago. Its lower magnitude makes it more difficult to spot compared to when it rivaled Jupiter in brightness during December. In Taurus, it is near the Pleiades, Capella in Auriga and Aldebaran, the red eye of Taurus the Bull.

March is a great time to view Orion, Sirius (both in the south) and even the Big Dipper (to the right of Polaris) when it first gets dark. Leo the Lion is up and rising in the east and that signature backwards Question Mark is fairly easy to discern (punctuated by the fairly bright star Regulus). Remember, if you have never identified a constellation before, they are bigger than what you might expect.

The Pleiades or Seven Sisters

The Pleiades sorta looks like a little dipper. It is small in the sky and initially looks like a fuzzy spot to the eyes. Great in binoculars.

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