Southern Colorado Skies / March 12 – 18, 2017

Consider a planetarium program to help you plan your observations. There are many commercial products available, and an excellent program (STELLARIUM) is available free at


Later this week look to the west in the early evening to see a cluster of planets, including the elusive Mercury; you will need at least binoculars to see Uranus.


Uranus is still visible in the west, as described in this article. On February 20th Uranus and Mars were a little more than 1/2 degree apart and I was able to capture it in a photo (Mars is in the center, and Uranus to its lower left). Click photo to enlarge.


Tuesday (March 14):

Look to the east about 9 or 10 p.m. to see Jupiter, Spica, and the gibbous Moon rise and form a triangle.

Wednesday (March 15)

Look for Jupiter’s moon Europa to crosses the giant planet’s surface from 8:48 to 11:17 p.m. MDT. Another moon, Europa, follows from 9:55 p.m. to 12:16 a.m. MDT.

Saturday (March 18)

Action at Jupiter again. Its moon Io (just off the western limb) disappears into eclipse by Jupiter’s shadow about 8:24 p.m. MDT.




Mercury (in Aquarius):

Look to the west to see Mercury (as shown above) after March 17th, about 10 degrees (one fist width) to the lower left of brighter Venus.

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Venus (in Pisces):

Venus is still shining brightly in the west in the early evening, but it will be lower in the sky as the week progresses, and finally reach inferior conjunction on March 25th when it will pass just north of the Sun on its way to becoming a morning “star.”

Mars (in Pisces/Aries):

Look for a faint orange “star” to the far upper left of Venus.

Jupiter (in Virgo):

Jupiter rises just after dark, is high in the sky about 11 p.m., and dominates the southern sky before dawn. The bright star below it is Spica (in Virgo). Jupiter reaches opposition on April 7th, which is its closest approach during this apparition.

Saturn (in Sagittarius):

Look in the south-southeast in the early morning hours. Reddish Antares is about 18 degrees to Saturn’s right (a little less than the width of your fist with your thumb extended).

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Uranus (in Pisces):

Sinking in the southwest after nightfall, between Mars and Venus.

Neptune (in Aquarius):

Lost in the evening twilight.


The following data are based on my location in Pueblo West, Colorado. If you live well outside this area, you should consider checking this information for your location in order to be assured of accurate times, elevations, etc. If you’re unfamiliar with Iridium flares, check out my article at:

Monday (March 13) 08:42:04 p.m. / Magnitude -4.6 / SE / Elevation 48 degrees

Thursday (March 16) 05:30:56 a.m. / Magnitude -1.7 / SSW / Elevation 44 degrees

Friday (March 17) 05:24:43 a.m. / Magnitude -5.5 / SSW / Elevation 45 degrees

Friday (March 17) 08:26:53 p.m. / Magnitude -7.1 / SE / Elevation 53 degrees


These are too numerous to list here! If you’re serious, load the ISS DETECTOR app on your smart phone or tablet.

Carpe noctem

Dave Furry

Pueblo West, Colorado

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