SCAS – Southern Colorado Skies / March 20 – 26, 2016

Consider a planetarium program to help you plan your observations. There are many commercial products available, and a very good program (Cartes du Ciel) is available free at http://www.ap-i.net/skychart/en/start.

THIS WEEK

penumbra

A penumbral eclipse occurs on the morning of March 23rd (see details in the text below). During this “weak” eclipse, only the outer portion of the Earth’s shadow (the ‘penumbra’ – see the above graphic) will pass across a portion of the moon.

Monday (March 21)

The shadows of two of Jupiter’s moons, Io and Europa, will be visible on the surface of the gas giant from 10:23 p.m. to 12:31 a.m. MDT.

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot will be on the planet’s central meridian about 11:34 p.m. MDT.

Wednesday Morning (March 23)

A penumbral lunar eclipse tonight! The southern side of the full Moon will be covered by the pale outer fringe (the “penumbra” – see above) of the Moon’s shadow. This is classified as a “weak” eclipse and will be at its maximum at 5:47 a.m. MDT, when about 78% of the Moon will be within the penumbra. (The Sun will rise about :57 a.m.)

PLANETS

Mercury (in Pisces)

Lost in the glare of the Sun.

Venus (in Aquarius)

Very, very low in the east-southeast about 15 minutes before sunrise. Binoculars may be required but be careful not to accidentally catch the Sun.

Mars (in Scorpius)

Near the “head” of Scorpius). Mars rises between 11 and midnight and by early dawn it’s in the south just to the right (west) of Saturn. Mars should be big enough to show some surface details in your telescope (using at least a high-quality 3-inch scope). Mars, Saturn and Antares form an interesting sky triangle!

Jupiter (in Leo)

Near the “hind foot” of Leo and just past opposition (its closest approach during this pass). Jupiter is high in the southeast after dark and sets just before sunrise.

Saturn (in Ophiuchus)

Located in the “legs” of Ophiuchus, Saturn rises around midnight and is to the lower left (east) of Mars. Mars, Saturn and Antares form an interesting sky triangle!

Uranus (in Pisces) and Neptune (in Aquarius)

Both gas giants are lost in the glare of the Sun.

IRIDIUM FLARES AND INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS):

Sorry – these are too numerous to list here! If you’re serious, load the ISS DETECTOR app on your smart phone or tablet. Alternatively, refer to SCAS member Chuck Percival’s column in the Sunday Pueblo Chieftain.

Have fun!

Dave Furry, SCAS Director of Education

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