This month’s feast for the star-gazers and astronomers is indeed unique. Like the other months, the regular visitors will stay through this month. Venus, will again give a spectacular show.
For one who has always admired the red star Aldebaran, this March 4 will be a game of hide and seek. On March 4, the first quarter moon will pass between Earth and the star Aldebaran. This will temporarily block the view of the star. This is called an occultation.
The occultation begins and concludes at different times. It depends on the location from where one views it. This can be easily viewed from most of U.S., Mexico, Central America, whereas observers along Vancouver , British Columbia will see the moon ‘graze’ the star.
This will be a game of hide-&-seek as the star will disappear and reappear repeatedly. This is due to the hills and valleys on the moon which will alternately obscure and reveal it.
Our long staying guests will stay through this month. As seen from Earth, both Mercury and Venus have phases like our moon. Planets that orbit between Earth and the sun are known as inner or inferior planets. This is because they circle the sun inside Earth’s orbit.
They will be at “conjunction” on two different days. Conjunction is when a planet, the sun and Earth are all in a straight line. Mercury is at superior conjunction on March 6. A few weeks later, the planet emerges from behind the sun. By the end of the month, one will see a last-quarter Mercury. On April 20 Mercury reaches “inferior conjunction.”
Our shining Venus, will not go unnoticed. Venus is also racing towards its own inferior conjunction on March 25. One can watch its crescent getting thinner and thinner as the planet’s size appears larger and larger. This happens as the planet gets closer to the Earth
Finally, one can look for Jupiter to rise in the East. It will be visible all month long from late evening until dawn.