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What's Up...
Some observing hilights
to look forward to...

The following tips on current and upcoming astronomical events
have been assembled for our Okanagan region by Dave Gamble
with the objective of giving OC RASC members a heads-up on
special personal
astro-experiences to look forward to.

Sun. March 3
– This is Last Quarter Moon night, however Luna is exploring the southern dip in the ecliptic path right now and will rise very low in the south almost on top of Antares, in fact she will eclipse the star as seen from the southern U.S.  Up here in the north the pair will rise together in the wee hours, depending on how low a southern horizon you can get to.

Mon. March 4 - A heads-up that a window to observe the Zodiacal light is opening up as Luna heads toward the dark moon period. Under very dark sky conditions, look for an arch of faint, hazy light stretching up from the western horizon. You will be looking at light being scattered by dust particles from Mars and leftover dust in the Sun's equatorial plane.

Wed. March 6 - The constellation Perseus is now stationed high in the southwestern evening sky, allowing excellent opportunities to witness the dimming of the eclipsing variable star Algol. Tonight the ‘Devil Star’ will begin its two hour minimum brightness around 9.17pm. Check out its  brightness before 9pm and then return to the scene about an hour later to see the altered star pattern featuring the fainter Algol.

Sat. March 9 - A reminder that Daylight Saving Time begins tomorrow so clocks, watches and microwave ovens should be 'sprung ahead' one hour before you retire for the night. Promises, promises, but will this be the last time we have to make this change?

Sun. March 10 – This is New Moon night with Luna totally out of the way for those who enjoy looking for ‘faint fuzzies’ and for photographing other deep sky targets.

Wed. March 13 – This evening the dramatic waxing crescent Moon will join Jupiter to highlight the spring evening sky, introducing the stars and treasures of Taurus and Orion which will follow the pair down toward the western horizon as night advances.

Thurs. March 14 – Tonight Luna will be on hand to assist those who would like to add Uranus to their list of observations or just revisit the inner ice giant planet. The non-blinking ‘star’ in binoculars or a tiny greenish disk in a telescope will be found about 2/3 of the way from the Moon to bright Jupiter.

Sun. March 17 – This is First Quarter Moon night and to celebrate the occasion, Luna is arching high along the ecliptic path in Gemini, with the Castor and Pollux twins just to the upper left.

Tues. March 19  - This is a big day since it marks the first day of Spring in the northern hemisphere. The actual moment of the vernal equinox will occur at 8.06pm.

Thurs. March 21 – Now in waxing gibbous phase, tonight Luna will be visiting the spring constellation Leo which now dominates the midnight sky. Our neighbour will be just above Regulus, posing as part of the stem of the familiar reverse question mark asterism.

Sun. March 24 – It will be a tricky observation, but if you have access to a low western horizon, you might get a glimpse of the innermost planet Mercury just above the mountains as darkness falls. Even though it’s just out of the Sun’s glare, this will be the night of greatest eastern elongation for the fleet ‘messenger’ this time round. Binoculars will help in your quest.

Mon. March 25 – For those looking forward to next month’s total solar eclipse when the path of totality will cross North America, tonight as a warm-up there will be a deep penumbral lunar eclipse. In this case Luna will narrowly miss the dark cone of Earth’s shadow, but it will cross fully into the penumbral partial shadow. Here the first sign of dimming will begin at 9.53pm and reach its maximum at 12.13am, and will wind up the show at 2.33am.

Fri. March 29 –  We are getting toward the end of chances to see the eclipsing binary Algol do it’s blink thing as host constellation Perseus moves further down into the brightening western sky, however the ‘Devil Star’ will provide an encore this evening. This time Algol will be at its dimmest in the two hours centered at 9.52pm.  Before about 8.45pm it will be seen at its regular brightness then its companion star will begin a transit of Algol’s disk to create the dimming.