Eyes on Jupiter

Saturn will be visible by month’s end

The planet Jupiter, the largest in the Solar System is visible in the western sky at the month’s beginning, setting about two hours after the sun. It is the lone bright object in that part of the sky, the constellations around it containing only faint stars.

On 12 through 16 March, Mercury is close to Jupiter, just after sunset and the smaller planet’s proximity to the giant makes it easy to find. Find a clear view to the west to observe this. Seven Mile beach is ideal.

Jupiter will be gone from the night skies by month’s end, but Saturn, which rises two hours after sunset in early March, will be visible at dusk by then.

In the morning sky, Venus, the bright “Morning Star”, is brilliant two hours before dawn and still visible as it begins to get light.

The moon is full on the 19th and spring officially begins in the northern hemisphere on the 20th, at 7.21pm, when the sun reaches equinox.

All month long, the bright and distinctive Winter Constellations dominate the evening sky with their bright stars.

On 12 March, the first-quarter moon is close to both Aldebaran in Taurus, the Bull and Capella in Auriga, the Charioteer. In Taurus we can also find the star cluster of the Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters.

Sharp eyes may be able to distinguish seven points, but the cluster consists of at least 1,000 stars.

Orion, with his belt, brilliant stars Betelgeuse and Rigel, is a familiar shape toward the south. Following his master is Canis Major, containing the Dog Star Sirius, the brightest star (apart from the sun) in our sky.

Looking northeast from Sirius brings us to Procyon, the alpha star of Canis Minor, and not far above lay the Twins, Pollux and Castor.

Nick Kelly is president of the Cayman Islands Astronomical Society, which will meet on Monday, 7 March, at 7pm at Pedro Castle, weather permitting. All are welcome. For more information, visit http://caymanastronews.blogspot.com/