Studying the skies this month!


This month Jupiter will be well placed for observation, located in the constellation Leo. It will be visible for much of the night, reaching its highest point in the sky at around midnight GMT.

Understanding the geometry of the solar system, optimal positioning occurs when Jupiter is almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky. Since the Sun reaches its greatest distance below the horizon at midnight, the point opposite to it is highest in the sky at the same time.

At around the same time that Jupiter passes opposition, it also makes its closest approach to the Earth (perigee), making it appear at its brightest and largest.
This happens when Jupiter lies opposite the Sun in the sky, the solar system is aligned so that Jupiter, the Earth and the Sun form a straight line with the Earth in the middle, on the same side of the Sun as Jupiter. And although it can still be wintry, March is a really good time to be observing!
On cold clear nights the temperature drops rapidly so you will need to keep warm when out observing. Wearing several layers of clothing is better than one very thick coat and look after your feet – thick socks and boots!  And a hat is a must!!


There will be a penumbral eclipse of the Moon, though unfortunately it will not be visible from UK since the Moon will be beneath the horizon at the time.
The eclipse will last from 09:40 until 13:55, and maximum eclipse will occur at 11:48 GMT.

A penumbral eclipse occurs whenever the Earth passes between the Moon and Sun, such that it obscures the Sun’s light and casts a shadow onto the Moon’s surface.
In this outer part of the Earth’s shadow, an observer on the Moon would see the Sun partially obscuring the Sun’s disk, but not completely covering it. As a result the Moon’s brightness will begin to dim, as it is less strongly illuminated by the Sun, often appearing reddish in colour.


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