Tuesday 19 September 2017 - 22:23:08 Posted by  Bobby

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 Night Skies of March

Day and night are nearly equal in length all over the world as the equinox approaches, around March 21st, the start of northern spring and southern fall. Orion and the bright stars around it are in the west, while from southern latitudes rich fields of stars, from Carina to Centaurus, lie south and southeast.

 Top 2 Constellations For March

 Ursa Major (The Greater Bear)


 Mythology of Ursa Major

Ursa Major is one of the most prominent constellations, Canis Major is embellished by the brightest of all stars, Sirius. It depicts the larger of the two dogs belonging to Orion, the hunter (the other being represented by Canis Minor). As the Earth rotates, the dogs seem to follow the hunter across the sky.

 The Facts

  • Depiction: The Great Bear
  • Pronounced: ER-sah MAY-jer
  • Genitive: Ursae Majoris
  • Abbreviation: UMa
  • Highest in the Sky: February to May
  • Size Ranking: 3rd
  • Coverage Area: 1,280 Sq. Degrees
  • Right Acension: 11 hours
  • Declination: 50°
  • Visibility: 90°N to 22°S

 Notable Objects

  • Big Dipper: Asterism
  • M81: Galaxy
  • M82: Galaxy
  • M97: Owl Nebula
  • M101: Pinwheel Galaxy
  • M108: Barred spiral galaxy
  • NGC 2976: Unbarred spiral galaxy
  • NGC 3034: Starburst galaxy
  • NGC 5474: Dwarf galaxy
  • QSO 0957 561A/B: Double Quasar
  • Zeta Ursae Majoris: Multiple star
  • Xi Ursae Majoris: Binary star

 Named Stars

  • Dubhe, Alpha Ursae Majoris
  • Merak, Beta Ursae Majoris
  • Phecda, Gamma Ursae Majoris
  • Megrez, Delta Ursae Majoris
  • Alioth, Epsilon Ursae Majoris
  • Alcor, Zeta Ursae Majoris
  • Alkaid, Eta Ursae Majoris
  • Talitha, Iota Ursae Majoris
  • Tania Borealis, Lambda Ursae Majoris
  • Tania Australis, Mu Ursae Majoris
  • Alula Borealis, Nu Ursae Majoris
  • Alula Australis, Xi Ursae Majoris
  • Musicda, Omicron Ursae Majoris

 Best Viewed Objects/Stars

The Big Dipper (The Plough)

 One of the best known patterns in the sky, consisting of the naked-eye stars Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, and Eta Ursae Majoris. The outline that they form is visualized in various cultures as that of a plow, a ladle, a saucepan, and even a wagon. All the stars in the Big Dipper, with the exception of the outermost two (Alpha and Eta), are traveling in the same direction through space and form what is known as a moving cluster.

Zeta Ursae Majoris (Mizar)

 A multiple star. Observers with good eyesight or suing binoculars will see that this star of magnitude 2.2 has a partner of magnitude 4.0, known as Alcor or 80 Ursae Majoris. Mizar and Alcor are 78 and 81 light-years away, so they are not a true binary pair. However, a small telescope reveals that Mizar has a closer 4th-magnitude companion. This pair forms a true binary with a very long orbital period.

Xi Ursae Majoris

 A binary star with close components of magnitudes 4.3 and 4.8 that can be separated through a telescope of 3 in (75 mm) aperture. The yellowish stars, similar to the Sun, are 26 light-years away and have an orbital period of 60 years.

M81 & M82

 Two contrasting galaxies about 12 million light-years away. M81 is a beautiful spiral, visible with binoculars or a small telescope. One moon diameter to the north is the smaller and fainter M82, a galaxy of peculiar appearance, which is now thought to be a spiral seen edge-on that is passing through a dust cloud.


 A spiral galaxy that appears face-on to us. It covers almost as much sky as the full Moon but is quite faint, and good conditions are required if it is to be seen with binoculars or a small telescope.

 Coma Berenices (Berenices Golden Hair)


 Mythology of Coma Berenices

Coma Berenices represents the hair of Queen Berenice of Egypt. According to legend, she cut off her locks to thank the gods for the safe return of her husband, King Ptolemy, from battle. It was formed in the 16th century by Gersrdus Mercator, the Dutch cartographer, from a group of faint stars that the Greeks regarded as the tail of Leo. The galaxies in its southern region belong to the Virgo Cluster.

 The Facts

  • Depiction: Berenice's Hair
  • Pronounced: KOH-ma-bear-uh-NEE-sees
  • Genitive: Comae Berenices
  • Abbreviation: Com
  • Highest in the Sky: April to May
  • Size Ranking: 42nd
  • Coverage Area: 386 Sq. Degrees
  • Right Acension: 13 hours
  • Declination: 20°
  • Visibility: 90°N to 57°S

 Notable Objects

  • 24 Comae Berenices: Double star
  • Melotte 111: The Coma Star Cluster
  • M53: Globular cluster
  • M64: Blackeye Galaxy
  • M99: Unbarred spiral galaxy
  • M100: Spiral galaxy
  • NGC 4565: Spiral galaxy
  • NGC 5053: Globular cluster

 Named Stars

  • Diadem, Alpha Comae Berenices

 Best Viewed Objects/Stars

Alpha M64 (The Black Eye Galaxy)

 A spiral galaxy, visible through a small telescope as an elliptical haze. Larger apertures show a dark cloud of dust silhouetted against the galaxy's center, which gives rise to its popular name.

The Coma Star Cluster (Melotte 111)

 An open cluster, consisting of a scattered group of stars stretching southward in a fan shape from Gamma Comae Berenices, magnitude 4.4, which is not a true member but a foreground star. The cluster lies 260 light-years away.

 Features of Interest (Feb/March)

 M44, The Beehive Cluster

 Cancer, the faintest constellation of the zodiac, contains a major attraction: the open cluster in M44, popularly known as Praesepe or the Beehive. Binoculars show it as a rounded patch of faint stars, resembling a swarm of bees. It can be detected with the naked eye in rural skies. The stars, Gamma and Delta Cancri, to the north and south of the cluster, were visualized in ancient times as donkeys feeding at a manger.

 NGC 3372, Eta Carina Nebula

 This diffuse nebula, which contains the 5th-magnitude star Eta Carinae, is commonly known as the Eta Carinae Nebula. On dark nights it can be seen with the naked eye, appearing as a particulary bright patch in the Milky Way. Its large size makes it ideal for observation through binoculars. A dark, V-shaped lane of dust runs through it.

 IC 2602, The Southern Pleiades

 This bright open star cluster, populary termed the Southern Pleiades, consists of a handful of naked eye stars, the brightest of which is Theta Carinae, magnitude 2.7. Binoculars show about two dozen stars.

 The False Cross

 Four stars in the adjacent constellations Carina and Vela form the false cross, sometimes mistaken for the smaller but brighter true Southern Cross. The stars are Kappa and Delta Velorum and Iota and Epsilon Carinae.

 Meteor Shower Activity

March Meteor Showers

 Also Visible This Month

 Where to?

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