This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2023 March 11 – March 18~

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2023 March 11 – March 18~

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2023 March 11 – March 18~

As darkness settles in this Friday evening, go out and raise a glass to the southwest and toast the constellation Orion, the mighty sky-hunter who on this day signs his name as O’Ryan. And if you had dusted off an Irish Rovers record during the day, perhaps you will be hunting the sky for some animals in their signature tune written by Shel Silverstein, “The Unicorn.”

You will have no luck finding green alligators, chimpanzees, rats and elephants. There is no humpy-back camel, either, but there is the large and faint Camelopardalis in the seemingly blank sky high in the northwest between Polaris and bright Capella. The name means camel-leopard or giraffe. Cygnus the Swan is waving part of one wing above the northern horizon, hoping to be picked for a long necked goose. If you check Cygnus out in the morning there is a faint constellation below its head called Vulpecula the Fox. Nineteenth century star maps depicted the fox with a goose in its mouth and the constellation was labelled as Vulpecula and Anser. Cats? Well, there is Leo the Lion in the east, tiny Leo Minor between it and Ursa Major, and elusive Lynx above Ursa Major.

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 6:39 am and sunset will occur at 6:19 pm, giving 11 hours, 40 minutes of daylight (6:44 am and 6:24 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 7:26 am and set at 7:28 pm, giving 12 hours, 2 minutes of daylight (7:31 am and 7:33 pm in Saint John). Timepieces jump ahead one hour at 2 am Sunday to begin daylight time. Note that 12 hours of daylight occurs on March 17-18 rather than on the equinox. Sunrise and sunset times are based on the top of the Sun rather than the middle, so that adds about two minutes of light to the day. Also, refraction of sunlight through the atmosphere can make the Sun appear to be sitting on the horizon, when rising and setting, when it is actually just below it, adding about four minutes. Therefore, 12 hours of daylight occurs two to three days before the spring equinox and after the autumn equinox.

The Moon is near the bright orange star Antares in Scorpius on Tuesday morning and it reaches third quarter phase that evening. Venus dominates the early evening sky as Jupiter begins sinking into twilight, with Venus setting an hour later than Jupiter on Sunday and stretching that by half an hour over the week. Mars passes between the horn tips of Taurus this weekend, making an equilateral triangle with similarly coloured Betelgeuse and Aldebaran late in the week. Mercury is at superior conjunction on Friday, while Saturn is lost in morning twilight. Rural observers might see the zodiacal light in the western sky 60 to 90 minutes after sunset.

On Sunday evening at 8 pm, tune in to the Sunday Night Astronomy Show via the Facebook page or YouTube channel of Astronomy by the Bay.

Questions? Contact Curt Nason

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