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Night sky in spring

Night sky in spring

Local astronomer, Michael Barratt, tells you what to look out for in the next few weeks.  


The skies are dark for observations from about 7:30 pm until 5:00 am so this is a good time to see the constellations such as Leo (the Lion) and Virgo (the Virgin). For those with larger telescopes, there are many galaxies on display. The major planets are all disappearing into the Sun’s glow. Mercury will be at its most visible for the whole year this month, low down in the western evening sky below and to the right of sinking Jupiter. However, Mercury too steadily fades as the month progresses. There is likely to be a sight of a brightish comet (Pons-Brooks), which travels around the sun every 71 years. This year the comet will track from the constellations Andromeda to Aries and should be visible with binoculars - the best time to see it is in the west, as soon after dark as possible, but the twilight might make it tricky. Citizen scientists can track and report observations and sightings to Michael.

The full moon on Monday 25 March, is called a “Worm Moon”. The name references the reappearing of earthworms and their casts, as the snow melts and the ground softens.

March is always a good month to look out for the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights - a green glow in the northern sky. With much solar activity occurring at the moment there is a better chance than this time last year.

Follow Michael on Facebook at Moot Halt Observatory or log on to The Society for Popular Astronomy for updates. You can also email him at mootastro@yahoo.com with your own queries or observations.

What to look for

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