EVENTS AND NAKED EYE VIEWING
NOTE: All Sky Charts Courtesy of SkyGuide App Unless Otherwise noted.
March 1 (Thursday) Full Worm Moon. Amazing! I'm writing this after the first week of February and there is no appreciable snowfall forecast for the rest of the month except for February 10. And now I'm writing about the Worm Moon and the coming Spring. Winter has simply taken a vacation at Mount Sangre Observatory! I can already see the buds forming on the branches of the aspen trees. Hopefully, there'll be enough food and water so the elk herds in the Moreno Valley and surrounding mountains will be able to nourish their unborn calves. Technically, the Full Moon falls on March 2, but that's because we use UTC (Universal Time Coordinated) to mark the Moon phases. It will look it's fullest, however during the evening hours of March 1.
March 11 (Sunday) Spring Ahead! Change your clocks one hour forward before bedtime Saturday Night. Daylight Savings Time begins.
A real cosmic treat is on tap for the first day of Daylight Savings Time! At 6 AM MDT, you'll see a wonderful celestial welcome to the coming Spring season by the Moon, Saturn, Mars, the constellation Scorpius, and Jupiter! Look how the Moon and three planets align along the ecliptic or zodiac with the Mars-like star Antares slightly below. If you drop an imaginary line straight down from Mars, it'll mark the location of the center of our Milky Way galaxy a bit to the left of the stinger star of Scorpius. That's where the mysterious super massive black hole Sagittarius A* lurks. Lucky for us it's about 26,000 light years from Earth, so this multi-million solar mass star-eating-machine will not affect us. This panorama covers almost 1/4 of the sky from the SE to the SSW horizon.
March 20 (Tuesday) Spring Equinox. At 10:15 AM, the Sun will cross the imaginary line directly above the Earth's equator (called the celestial equator). It is officially Spring! Since you can't see the celestial equator, you can note that the Sun will rise directly in the East and set in the West giving us equal day and equal night. Although astronomers will tell you that this isn't exactly true, it's true enough for most of us! The only other day that matches this is the Autumnal Equinox. So, now we can expect to see the Sun rise further north of east and set further north of west every day until the Summer Solstice in June.
March 31 (Saturday) Full Pink Moon AND Second Blue Moon of 2018. It seems like we were talking about this just recently. Yes, we were! The Super Snow Blue Blood Moon in January was a real show stopper! This Full Moon's claim to fame is that it happens to also be a Blue Moon (second Full Moon in a single month). You can bank on this happening every time we get a Full Moon on January 31 because February doesn't have enough days to cover a complete cycle of the Moon's phases (29.53 days). Back to the Full Pink Moon. No! It won't be pink, so don't pay attention to any social media postings showing a beautiful pink colored Moon. Native Americans called it the Pink Moon in honor of the Pink Phlox Flower which is one of the first to be seen blooming in early Spring.
March 4 (Sunday) Through March 19 (Sunday) Zodiacal Light. Every year near the equinoxes, the Earth is favorably positioned so we can see the sunlit dust left over from the formation of our Solar System. In the Spring, this phenomenon is visible above the western horizon about an hour or two after sunset. It looks like a dim narrow triangle of light that some may mistaken for light pollution from a nearby town. However, it is quite prominent in the dark skies of the Moreno Valley and other sites in New Mexico that are not in or near large cities and towns. Although the Zodiacal Light has been visible since late February, the moonlight has interfered. That's why I picked this date range so you can view it on nights when the Moon is below the horizon until at least 10 PM.