This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2023 March 4 – March 11~

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2023 March 4 – March 11~


This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2023 March 4 – March 11~

This week we will take the path less travelled to pick out a few of the more obscure constellations in our sky. If you don’t have a clear view to the south or if you are cursed by light pollution in that direction, they will be obscure to the point of invisibility. Around 9 pm, cast your eyes toward Sirius in Canis Major, the Big Dog. Hugging the horizon below Sirius you might detect a Y-shaped group of stars that forms Columba the Dove. This is one of the later constellations, created a century after Christopher Columbus made his first voyage, and it was meant to depict a dove sent by another famous sailor called Noah. It could also be the dove released by yet another famous sailor, Jason of the Argonauts fame, to gauge the speed of the Clashing Rocks of the Symplegades. The dove lost some tail feathers and the Argo lost a bit of its stern.

There is a good case to be made for this interpretation. To the left of Columba, rising past the rear end of Canis Major, is the upper part of Puppis the Stern. It was once part of a much larger constellation called Argo Navis, Jason’s ship, which has been disassembled to form Puppis, Vela the Sails and Carina the Keel. To the left of Puppis is a vertical line of three stars forming Pyxis, the (Mariner’s) Compass, and some say it once formed the mast of Argo Navis. At its highest it does point roughly north-south.

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 6:53 am and sunset will occur at 6:09 pm, giving 11 hours, 16 minutes of daylight (6:57 am and 6:15 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 6:39 am and set at 6:19 pm, giving 11 hours, 40 minutes of daylight (6:44 am and 6:24 pm in Saint John).

The Moon is near Regulus on Sunday and it is full on Tuesday. Venus and Jupiter are parting significantly, with Venus setting 50 minutes later than Jupiter by next weekend. Mars continues to move through the horns of Taurus the Bull, and by next weekend it will be between the horn tips. Mercury and Saturn are too close to the Sun for observing. Beginning Thursday there is a two-week moonless period when rural observers might see a subtle pyramid of light in the western sky. Caused by sunlight scattering off dust along the ecliptic, the zodiacal light is seen best from 60 to 90 minutes after sunset. Venus will be within it, and it is recommended to scan back and forth to notice where the brightness drops off.

The Saint John Astronomy Club meets at the Rockwood Park Interpretation Centre this Saturday at 7 pm. All are welcome. 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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