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    Articles > March 2003
 
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Celestial Delights

Both an introduction to Astronomy and a calendar of upcoming celestial events to 2010, this layperson's guide forecasts and explains numerous celestial phenomena in lucid writing and easy-to-grasp diagrams. Specially written for urban skywatchers, Celestial Delights deepens our appreciation of what we see when we look up into the night sky, and inspires us to do so more often.
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  Sky Calendar -- March 2003
Comet C/2002 V1 (NEAT) put on a fine display last month for northern skywatchers. This month the comet emerges from the Sun's glare and will be visible to southern hemisphere observers. Another much fainter comet, Comet C/2002 X5 (Kudo-Fujikawa), is located in the southwestern sky (use binoculars or a telescope).
1 Moon near Mercury (mag. ­0.4) at 17h UT (16° from Sun in morning sky).
3 New Moon at 2:35 UT. Beginning of lunation 992.
4 Mercury close to Uranus at 13h UT (14° from Sun in morning sky). Uranus (mag. 5.9) is 1.5° north of Mercury (mag. ­0.5) at their closest.
7 Moon at apogee (furthest from Earth) at 17h UT (distance 405,382 km; angular size 29.5').
9 Moon near the Pleiades at 16h UT.
11 First Quarter Moon at 7:15 UT.
11 Moon near Saturn (mag. 0.0) at 11h UT.
12 Venus close to Neptune at 20h UT (40° from Sun in morning sky). The planets (mags. ­4.1 and 8.0) will be 11' apart at their closest.
15 Moon near Jupiter (mag. ­2.4) at 1h UT.
18 Full Moon at 10:35 UT. The full Moon of March is called the "Sap Moon", "Crow Moon", or "Lenten Moon" in old American almanacs.
19 Moon at perigee (closest to Earth) at 19h UT (distance 359,816 km; angular size 33.2').
21 March equinox at 1:00 UT. The time when the Sun reaches the point along the ecliptic where it crosses into the northern celestial hemisphere marking the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.
25 Last Quarter Moon at 1:51 UT.
25 Moon near Mars (mag. 0.8) at 18h UT (morning sky).
28 Venus very close to Uranus at 12:46 UT (37° from Sun in morning sky). The two planets (mags. ­4.0 and 5.9) are just 2.6' apart at their closest. The event favors observers in the western USA.
29 Moon near Venus (mag. ­4.0) at 14h UT (morning sky).
All times in Universal Time (UT). (USA Eastern Standard Time = UT ­ 5 hours.)

Clear skies till next month!

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