Sky at a Glance March 23 – 30

Photo showing some of the constellations beginning with the letter "C" in the night sky.

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2019 March 23 – 30 ~by Curt Nason

Around 1930 the International Astronomical Union finalized the official constellations and their boundaries to cover the entire sky. Oddly, 22 of those 88 constellations begin with the letter “C.” Around 9 pm we can see 11 of those and parts of three others, so rather than deep sea fishing let’s go high C hunting. Starting in the west we might catch the head of Cetus the Whale before it sets, and toward the south Columba the Dove hugs the horizon. Meanwhile, Cygnus the Swan flaps a wing above the northern horizon for it never sets completely for us.

Higher in the north the house of Cepheus the King is upright for a change. To his west we see the W-shape of his wife, Cassiopeia the Queen, and above them we might have to strain to see Camelopardalis the Giraffe. Looking southwest, to the left of Orion are his faithful big and little dogs Canis Major and Canis Minor. Barely visible above the little dog is Cancer the Crab, nestled nicely between Gemini and Leo. In the southeast we have Corvus the Crow and Crater the Cup, both of which piggyback on Hydra. Tailing Leo high in the east is Coma Berenices, the locks of distressed Queen Berenice II of Egypt, and dogging Ursa Major is Canes Venatici the Hunting Dogs. Finally, lower in the east, we see the Northern Crown, Corona Borealis.

This episode of Sky at a Glance was brought to you by the letter C and the number 14. As you find each C constellation, count out loud like the Count (One! That’s one C constellation, ah ha ha!), and for each one you find you can reward yourself with … COOKIE!

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 7:16 am and sunset will occur at 7:35 pm, giving 12 hours, 19 minutes of daylight (7:22 am and 7:40 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 7:03 am and set at 7:44 pm, giving 12 hours, 41 minutes of daylight (7:08 am and 7:49 pm in Saint John).

The Moon is at third quarter on Thursday, passing near Jupiter the day before and Saturn the day after. Throughout the week we see Venus, Saturn and Jupiter stretching from the east across a third of the sky before sunrise. Mercury rises 45 minutes before sunrise midweek but you will require binoculars and luck to see it. By the end of the week Mars will be within a binocular view below the Pleaides star cluster in the evening sky. Use Mars and the Pleaides as a guide to view the zodiacal light angling up from the western horizon about an hour after sunset. You will need a clear, dark sky to see this phenomenon of sunlight reflecting off dust along the ecliptic.

Questions? Contact Curt Nason.

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