Skies will be amazing when spring hits Arizona

Mar 9, 2022, 2:00 PM
(Pixabay Photo)...
(Pixabay Photo)
(Pixabay Photo)

With just days till the annual vernal equinox, or start of the spring season on March 20, we look to the skies for some interesting sights.

The month of March in Arizona is a time of real changes in the weather and the sky.

As much of the nation goes on Daylight Saving Time at 2 a.m. on Sunday, we here in much of Arizona do not! So, no “springing forward” and falling back” on our clocks.

The concept of Daylight Saving Time goes back a ways in our history and the details are listed here.

Here are specifics around the nation.

With that being said, let’s get on with the Dr. Sky tour of our March skies!

Starting the journey with the moon, we find that March opened with a new moon on the second. This is the start of lunation 1227. This is a series of recorded lunations since the year 1923.

The moon slowly waxes and becomes a grand sight in our sunset skies in the west. The moon returns to its first quarter phase on the 10th and is splendid in a telescope or binoculars. During this time, scan the lunar terminator with all the deep crates and shadows.

A gibbous moon appears from the 11th till the next full moon March 18, the full worm moon.

The moon then wanes and slowly returns to the morning sky as it passes the bright star Antares in Scorpio on the morning of the 23rd.

Last quarter moon occurs on the 25th.

A decent conjunction of the moon and Venus, Mars and Saturn will occur on the morning of the 28th, low in the eastern sky before dawn.

The moon will look like a razor-thin crescent on the morning of the 28th, as it passes Jupiter, which is returning to the predawn skies.

Moving on to the other sights in the spring skies, we come to a few new constellations rising in the east after sunset.

Follow the path of the planets – the “ecliptic” – as we explore the zodiac sign of Leo the Lion.

This constellation really looks like a crouching lion with the brightest star, Regulus, at the front paw. Regulus is 77 light years from us.

Just above the tail of Leo lies one of the most amazing clusters of galaxies in the entire sky.

This is known as the realm of the galaxies.

Here is a detailed listing of what objects lie in this region, for telescope observers with really dark skies.

Finally, we notice a bright star rising in the northeastern sky around 9 p.m. Arizona time.

This is the super giant star Arcturus, some 36 light years from the Earth. This is an amazing star with a diameter 25 times that of the sun.

Its light was used to open the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, with a large telescope on the shore of Lake Michigan.

Here is more on that story.

That was May 27, 1933.

To learn more about all the great objects in the March 2022 skies, I suggest our sister website.

By the way, the vernal equinox occurs in Arizona at 8:32 a.m.

Happy spring!

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.

Podcasts are available here.

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Skies will be amazing when spring hits Arizona