Southern Colorado Skies / March 25-31, 2018

Consider a planetarium program to help you plan your observations. There are many commercial products available; an excellent program (STELLARIUM) is available free at http://www.stellarium.org/.

The Orion nebula (M42) is visible just after dark (the purplish object with the white star in the center, near the top of the photo, is M43), located about halfway down the “sword” dangling from Orion’s “belt” as shown in the second photo. The first photo is a time exposure taken through my telescope, but you can see a faint glow in this area with just your eyes in a location with decently dark skies.

 

M42 is located about 1,350 light-years from Earth and is estimated at 24 light-years across. The blue color is radiation from hot blue stars reflected off dust. The red color is radiation at the Hydrogen-alpha (Hα) wavelength of 656.3 nanometers.

THIS WEEK

Mars and Saturn are very close to one another in the southern sky this week (Saturday morning’s view is shown below). They will be closest on April 2nd when they will be less than 1-1/2 degrees apart (that’s approximately equal to the width of your index finger held at arm’s length).

Mars is practically on top of M22, a bright globular cluster that some call “the M13 of the south.” Have a look through binoculars or your telescope!

(For an explanation of “M” objects, see my short article at http://scaspueblo.com/blog/2017/03/16/what-is-a-messier-object/).

Saturday (March 31)

Look for Mars and Saturn very close together, as shown in the above graphic.

Full Moon at 6:36 a.m. MDT.

DAYLIGHT

 

PLANETS

Mercury (in Pisces)

Mercury is getting dimmer and sinking further toward the western horizon in the evening shortly after sunset. You may still get a glimpse of it early in the week with binoculars.

Venus (in Pisces)

Look for Venus low on the western horizon shortly after sunset.

Mars and Saturn (both in Sagittarius)

Both planet rise about 3 a.m. and are in good viewing position well before dawn, above the “teapot” in Sagittarius. Mars continues to get closer to Saturn from our vantage point on Earth, and they will be their closest (1.3 degrees) on April 2nd. (See above graphic.)

Jupiter (in Libra)

Jupiter rises about 11 p.m. and dominates the southern sky for the rest of the night. It’s in its best position for observation between 3 and 4 a.m.

Uranus (in Pisces) and Neptune (in Aquarius)

Both planets are now lost in the glare of the Sun.

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

Tuesday (March 27) 7:52:59 p.m. / Magnitude -3.5 / N / Elevation 45 degrees

Thursday (March 29) 6:02:03 a.m. / Magnitude -1.5 / NNE / Elevation 32 degrees

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS)

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

Carpe noctem

Dave Furry

Pueblo West, Colorado

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