March Astronomical Highlights: Full Moons and Plenty of Messier Objects
By Kelly Kizer Whitt
This month, our days will finally become "longer." Clocks will spring forward an hour for Daylight Savings Time on Sunday, March 11. At the same time, the Northern Hemisphere is shifting from winter to spring, which means longer days are also coming naturally. The equinox falls on March 20, when the sun rises directly in the east and sets directly in the west.
For astronomers, this season means a good chance to see distant galaxies that show up in spring constellations. It's also an opportunity to spot all 160 of the Messier objects. These objects were catalogued by the French astronomer Charles Messier, who lived in the 18th and early 19th centuries. While he was searching for comets, he kept tabs of all the "faint fuzzies" he saw, unaware that they were the deep-sky delights we know now as star clusters, gaseous nebulas and galaxies.
A Messier marathon is the modern-day attempt to view as many Messier objects as possible in one night. While this is best left for veteran observers with high-powered telescopes, there are a number of easy objects you can check off with just your eyes or a pair of binoculars. Here is a handful to get you started:
- M45: Pleiades star cluster (Taurus)
- M42: Orion Nebula (Orion)
- M31: Andromeda Galaxy (Andromeda)
- M44: Beehive Cluster (Cancer)
- M13: Hercules globular cluster (Hercules)
- M57: Ring Nebula (Lyra)
Even though March is considered the best month for bagging all the Messier objects, some are more easily found in different seasons. The first four on this brief list should be a breeze to spot this month. One way to find Messier objects is to do a slow scan of the Milky Way with a telescope or binoculars. If you brush over a distinct gathering of stars or hazy patch of sky, you've most likely discovered a Messier star cluster or nebula.
One of the biggest hindrances to seeing deep-sky objects like Messier's non-comets is the interference of a full moon, and there will be two in March—the first is on March 1 at 4:52 p.m. PST, and the second, a Blue Moon, is on March 31 at 5:37 a.m. PDT.
Venus has been edging back into the evening sky, and in March, it should be easier to find. On March 3, Venus and Mercury will be only 1 degree apart near the western horizon after sunset. On March 18 they'll be farther apart at 4 degrees, but a crescent moon will join them, making for a pretty sight. Soon after, Mercury will sink back toward the sun, but Venus will continue to climb upwards, albeit slowly.
You'll have a chance to spot elusive Uranus at the end of the month, using Venus as a guidepost. Binoculars or a telescope are a must, especially because both planets will be near the horizon after sunset before the sky is totally dark. On March 28, find Venus in the west. You'll need a flat, clear view to the horizon to see it as it follows the sun down. Use binoculars to find a faint point of light in the field of view with Venus. This object is Uranus, a mere four arcminutes from Venus.
Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA Magazine.
By Jake Johnson
Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.
"It's easy to feel dwarfed in the context of such a global systemic issue," says psychologist Renée Lertzman.
She says that when people experience these feelings, they often shut down and push information away. So to encourage climate action, she advises not bombarding people with frightening facts.
"When we lead with information, we are actually unwittingly walking right into a situation that is set up to undermine our efforts," she says.
She says if you want to engage people on the topic, take a compassionate approach. Ask people what they know and want to learn. Then have a conversation.
This conversational approach may seem at odds with the urgency of the issue, but Lertzman says it can get results faster.
"When we take a compassion-based approach, we are actively disarming defenses so that people are actually more willing and able to respond and engage quicker," she says. "And we don't have time right now to mess around, and so I do actually come to this topic with a sense of urgency… We do not have time to not take this approach."
Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
- Your Guide to Talking With Kids of All Ages About Climate Change ... ›
- 7 of the Best Ted Talks About Climate Change - EcoWatch ›
- Katharine Hayhoe Reveals Surprising Ways to Talk About Climate ... ›
An extremely rare North Atlantic right whale calf was found dead off the North Carolina coast on Friday.
<div class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="24c36ab7f041f96875677ba1e9dc1944"><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/CapeLookoutNPS/posts/3608024915884969"></div></div>
- 411 North Atlantic Right Whales Remain: This Solution Could Help ... ›
- Sixth North Atlantic Right Whale Found Dead Prompts Concern ... ›
- First North Atlantic Right Whale Calf of the Season Spotted off ... ›
By Andrea Germanos
A new report released Tuesday details the "shocking" state of global land equality, saying the problem is worse than thought, rising, and "cannot be ignored."
- We Need a Green New Deal for Farmland - EcoWatch ›
- The Netherlands Can Feed the World. Here's Why It Shouldn't ... ›
- The Key to Saving Family Farms Is in the Soil - EcoWatch ›
- Urban Farming Booms During Coronavirus Lockdowns - EcoWatch ›
In yet another attack on the environment before leaving office, the Trump administration is seeking to transfer ownership of San Carlos Apache holy ground in Oak Flat, Arizona, to a copper mining company.
- Mining Giant BHP Pauses Plans to Blast 40 Aboriginal Heritage Sites ›
- Mining Company CEO Forced to Resign After Blasting of 46,000 ... ›
- Rio Tinto Blasted Away an Ancient Aboriginal Site. Here's Why That ... ›