Celestial events in the skies for the week of Mar. 6-12, 2018 as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
Time to shift our time pieces and begin living again with more daylight in the evening—and less in the morning. Sunday March 11th there is no 2 am, we skip that hour and after 1:59 am it is 3 am Daylight Saving Time. There is no ending “s” in the word “saving,” but now you’ll count the number of times you hear newscasters and weather people say it “savings!” Skyward, early birds are treated to three planets strung along the morning twilight: Saturn closest to the horizon, red Mars between the ringed world and brilliant Jupiter to the right. The planets string along the ecliptic like a stellar necklace.
Tuesday, March 6
In March 1986, everybody had Halley’s Comet fever as the most famous comet was making its annual 76-year visit to the inner Solar System. On this date in 1986, the European spacecraft, Vega 1, flew by the comet, battered by icy debris and rock, and survived to transmit more than 2,000 images of Halley.
Wednesday, March 7
Planet Jupiter is south of the Moon as they rise together at 1:30 am. On this 1969 date in space history, NASA astronauts flew for the first time the Lunar Module moon ship in Earth orbit, practicing docking maneuvers with the Apollo 9 Command Module. Gemini veteran astronaut Jim McDivitt, 88, stayed in the mother ship named “Gumdrop” while in the odd-looking moonship named “Spider” were astronauts Rusty Schweickart, 82, and future moonwalker David Scott, 85. The success made possible four months later the historic Apollo 11 landing.
Thursday, March 8
On this 1979 date in space history, active volcanoes were found on Jupiter moon Io in the images sent a few weeks earlier to Earth from passing NASA spacecraft Voyager 1. In 2001, Shuttle Discovery was launched in the STS-102 mission.
Friday, March 9
The planet Mars is above the eastern horizon to the left of the Moon at 2:30 am Jupiter to the Moon’s right. Saturn will be rising at 3:30 am. These planets will dominate our late spring/summer nights as they gather in the constellations Sagittarius to Scorpius.
Saturday, March 10
In the morning twilight, the crescent Moon and planet Saturn are beautiful. Look for Mars way to the right, and Jupiter further right as you pan westward along the ecliptic.
Sunday, March 11
Daylight saving time begins. Sunlight lasts until about 7:30 pm, but its dark in the morning again until 7:45 am. Remember, a 23-hour day today as we “Spring forward” and 2 am immediately becomes 3 am in Sunday’s wee hours.
Monday, March 12
The Sun enters the constellation Pisces; at least that’s what the facts are, contrary to the fake science of astrology—which erroneously has the Sun entering the Fishes on Feb. 23. The Big Dipper is making its annual spring appearance standing on its handle of three stars at 8:30 pm. The rest of the constellation Ursa Major, the Big Bear, is sprawling ahead of the hindquarters “asterism” of the famous seven stars, called the Plow in Great Britain.