What's in the Sky Tonight? March 2020
Clear skies tonight? Browse our list of astronomical events for opportunities!
March is a great month for planetary viewing and imaging. Get ready for Mercury, and Venus to be in position for unique observing all on a new Moon night! Another special planetary event is the conjunction of Mars and Jupiter! If you plan to observe the supermoon, make sure you use moon filters for your sensor's protection and your vision's protection.
Planets and Moon Phases
March 9 - Full Moon, Supermoon
The second of four supermoons in 2020. Known to early Native Americans as the “Full Worm Moon” because the ground would begin to soften and the earthworms would reappear.
March 24 - New Moon
An ideal night for viewing or imaging, you may not have to travel far to get dark skies on this night. Plan on viewing galaxies and star clusters. This new Moon also falls on the same day as two planetary events taking place!
March 20 - Jupiter and Mars Conjunction
Jupiter and Mars will share the same right ascension, with Jupiter passing 0°42' to the north of Mars before sunrise. This astronomical event will be visible with the naked eye!
March 24 - Venus
Venus will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky. Look for the bright planet in the western sky after sunset.
For the more advanced astronomers, we’ve compiled a list of deep space objects to look for! Not advanced but interested in deep space objects? We've compiled a list of the best apps to use for astrophotography to give you some extra help!
If you're posting your images on social media, make sure to use the hashtag #OPTeam for a chance to be featured on our Instagram page!
DEEP SPACE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE
- Messier 44: Beehive Cluster
M44 is also known as Praesepe (the Manger). This open star cluster contains about a thousand stars.
- Messier 67
M67 is an open star cluster that contains more than 100 stars that are similar to our Sun!
- Messier 101: Pinwheel Galaxy
M101 is estimated to contain about 1 trillion stars and is about 70% larger than the Milky Way!
- Messier 82: Cigar Galaxy
M82 is about five times brighter than the Milky Way, 6 to 8-inch telescopes can capture its bright core and dark patches across its structure.
- Messier 97: Owl Nebula
M97 got its name from the two dark patches resembling eyes of an owl. It was created when a Sun-like star collapsed from a red giant to a white dwarf.
- M63: Sunflower Galaxy
M63 is a spiral galaxy located just after the end of the Big Dipper's handle and is about the same size as the Milky Way.
- NGC 4631: Whale Galaxy
NGC 4631 is a barred spiral galaxy is 28 million light-years away from Earth. It has a high surface brightness, making it a great target for small scopes!
- M51: Whirlpool Galaxy
M51 is closest to the end of the Big Dipper's handle, because it appears "face-on" it is another great object for beginners!
DEEP SPACE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE
The second brightest star in the southern sky. It's currently in its blue loop phase of its evolution although white to the naked eye.
- IC 2602: Theta Carinae Cluster
IC 2602 is an open star cluster that contains about 74 stars. It is the third brightest open star cluster in the southern sky.
- NGC 3532: Wishing Well Cluster
NGC 3532 is also known as the Pincushion Cluster, and the Football Cluster. It includes seven red giants and seven white dwarfs.
- Lindsay-Shapley Ring (AM 0644-741)
AM 0644-741 is an unbarred lenticular galaxy and a ring galaxy. It is observed as a nucleus surrounded by a ring.
- NGC 2442 and NGC 2443: Meathook Galaxy
Two parts of a single intermediate spiral galaxy and about 50 million light-years away.
- NGC 3132: Eight-Burst Nebula
Surrounding a dying star is an expanding cloud of gas giving it its round shape as a planetary nebula.
- Gum Nebula (Gum 12)
The Gum Nebula contains about 32 cometary globules. It is part of 84 emission nebulae in the Gum catalog.
- NGC 2736: Pencil Nebula
NGC 2736 has a linear appearance, giving it its name. It's moving about 400,000 miles per hour!
Clear skies! 🔭✨