Astronomical Calendar for March 2024: Lunar Phases, Interesting Views and Even an Eclipse

March will give us several interesting astronomical events with an equinox as the main protagonist, and several conjunctions.

Observing night sky.
Observing the night sky is one of the most magical and exciting activities that human beings have always experienced.

To observe the night sky does not require advanced knowledge of any specific science, or complex mathematical calculations. You just need to have the desire and ability to be amazed and marvel at the visible universe, since the vast majority of objects are diffuse and sometimes difficult to observe due to the great distance that separates us from them.

Being able to enjoy amazing and mysterious structures requires curiosity, perseverance, patience... and a small guide like this one that we offer you in Meteored to see and get closer to the different celestial bodies that we have within our reach.

Views and anniversaries

To enjoy the best views of the night sky we must choose a suitable place, with the least light pollution. It is not necessary to buy a telescope, since with our eyes - and if you have a pair of binoculars, even better - we can see some planets and the Milky Way.

NOTE: the times are referred to Argentina time (GMT -3). By comparison, the UK is typically 3 hours ahead of Argentina.

First days of March

Probable BETA TUCAN meteor shower, when the Earth passes close to the trail of meteoric debris left in its wake by Comet Bradfield (C/1976 D1). The encounter could generate a series of slow meteors visible from the southern hemisphere. It is not yet possible to estimate its frequency, but its radiant will be close to Beta Tucanae (looking at the sky towards the SSE)

3 March: Last Quarter, at 12:23

The lunar phases are the different aspects that the Moon assumes during its movement, observed from the Earth.

First quarter moon.
The Moon in First Quarter begins on 3 March and ends on 10 March, when it enters the New Moon phase

The Moon in the First Quarter is characterised by being one in which only half of the lunar disk is visible from Earth.

8 March: Mars, Venus and the Moon

Conjunction of Mars with the Moon: will occur at 01:59, and will be visible from 04:00 until sunrise.

Conjunción lunar
On 8 March we will have the possibility of finding the Moon, with 7.4% illumination, very close to Mars and Venus to the east-southeast. It can be seen with the naked eye before dawn.

Conjunction of Venus with the Moon: at 2:01 p.m., but it will be visible near the horizon from 5:00 a.m. until sunrise.

10 March: The New Moon

The New Moon will occur on 10 March, at 06:00. At that time, our natural satellite will be between the Earth and the Sun, so its bright side will be facing away from the Earth.

New moon.
During the New Moon phase, our natural satellite is between the Earth and the Sun, which means that the lunar half that we see is not illuminated and the Moon becomes practically invisible.

It is the best time for stargazing because the moonlight will not hinder the view.

13 March: Jupiter and the Moon

Conjunction of Jupiter with the Moon: it will be at 10:02 p.m., but it will be visible near the horizon from sunset until 8:00 p.m.

17 March: Crescent Quarter

The First Quarter phase begins on 17 March at 01:11.

crescent moon.
The First Quarter phase occurs when the Moon is on its way to the Full Moon, and its shape resembles a "C" (for 'crescent') in the skies of the hemisphere.

From that moment on, the illuminated surface of the Moon begins to gradually increase, and less than half of it appears full.

20 March: vernal equinox

March equinox or vernal equinox at 00:07. At that time astronomical autumn begins in the Southern Hemisphere. In astronomy, the Aries point or vernal point is the point on the ecliptic from which the Sun passes from the southern celestial hemisphere to the northern celestial hemisphere, which occurs at the March equinox (beginning spring in the northern hemisphere and autumn in the southern hemisphere).

Earth axis.
Thanks to the inclination of the Earth's axis, during the translational movement around our star, the Earth receives light (and energy) from the Sun in different ways.

The time of year when the Sun is located in the plane of the celestial equator is known as the equinox (from the Latin aequinoctium (aequus nocte), "equal night"). That day and for an observer at the Earth's equator, the Sun reaches the zenith, the highest point in the sky in relation to the observer (just above his head, that is, at 90 °).

As its name indicates, on the dates when the equinoxes occur, the day has a length approximately equal to the length of the night throughout the planet. This happens twice a year: between 19 and 21 March and between 21 and 24 September.

25 March: penumbral eclipse and full moon

The Moon will enter the cone of twilight at 01:53 and will exit it at 06:32, as our satellite will pass through the penumbral shadow of the Earth, thus creating a penumbral lunar eclipse.

Eclipse penumbral
In a penumbral lunar eclipse, only Earth's most diffuse outer shadow (penumbra) falls on the face of the Moon. The eclipse will be visible from the entire American continent, and will begin at 1:53 in Argentina (4:53 Coordinated Universal Time), and will end at 6:32 in our country.

The Moon will be 95.6% in this shadow. The penumbral lunar eclipse will be visible from much of Europe, northern and eastern Asia, much of Australia, much of Africa, the Americas, the Arctic and Antarctica.

Full moon.
The full moon or full moon is a lunar phase that occurs when our planet is almost aligned between the Sun and the Moon. At this time, the illumination of the selene surface is 100%.

The Full Moon will occur on 25 March, at 04:00. With scientific rigour, we can say that the Full Moon lasts only an instant and occurs when the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth to the Sun, but the lunar disk will appear full for a day before and after that moment.