Southern Colorado Skies / March 26 – April 1, 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 http://www.stellarium.org/.

THIS WEEK

To close out the month of March, Mars (which is appropriately named for Mars) and Mercury make an appearance in the early night sky, as the crescent Moon visits Taurus.

3-30-2017

Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak (“T-G-K”) is now about magnitude 7. It is a large object but rather diffuse, and should be visible in small telescopes. It is expected reach 6th magnitude at the end of March and stay about that bright through April. For details see the Sky & Telescope article and finder chart at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/comet-41pt-g-k-glows-green-for-st-paddys-day/.

Monday (March 27)

New Moon at 8:57 p.m. MDT.

Wednesday (March 29)

Try to spot the thin crescent Moon low in the west, about 10 degrees below Mars (about a fist width held at arm’s length), as shown in the above diagram.

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Saturday (April 1)

Mercury is at its highest sunset altitude of the year. Look low in the west (see above diagram) about 45 or 60 minutes after sunset.

DAYLIGHT

daylight_2017

PLANETS

Mercury (in Pisces):

Mercury is having its best apparition of the year. Don’t miss it – look in the evening twilight, low and due west.

Venus (in Pisces):

Venus was at inferior conjunction on March 25th when it passed just north of the Sun on its way to becoming a morning “star.”

Mars (in Aries):

Look for a faint orange “star” low in the west during late twilight.

Jupiter (in Virgo):

Jupiter rises a little after dark, is high in the southeast about 11 p.m., and dominates the southwestern 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, to the upper right of the Sagittarius “teapot.” Reddish Antares is about 19 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):

Lost in the morning glare.

Neptune (in Aquarius):

Lost in the evening twilight.

BRIGHT IRIDIUM FLARES

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: http://scaspueblo.com/blog/2017/02/25/iridium-flares/.

Thursday (March 30) 05:31:15 a.m. / Magnitude -2.9 / NNE / Elevation 22 degrees

Friday (March 31) 05:25:23 a.m. / Magnitude -3.8 / NNE / Elevation 20 degrees

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS)

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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