March is a time of transition from the long, cold nights of winter to the longer days of spring. We adapt to this change by moving our clocks on hour ahead of the sun on the morning of March 10 in most of the United States. While there’s still not much daylight to save or shift to evening hours, daylight increases by nearly 85 minutes during the month.
On March 20, astronomical spring begins in the northern hemisphere. At 6:02 a.m. CDT, the sun’s rays are most direct on the equator, marking the vernal equinox.
|Last Quarter||March 4|
|New Moon||March 11|
|First Quarter||March 19|
|Full Moon||March 27|
Comet PanSTARRS emerges from behind the sun in March. While this posting is being composed in late February 2013, the comet’s brightness seems dimmer than once predicted. The following video explains the difficulty in predicting comet brightness and more about the comet:
Jupiter is high in the southwest at sunset, setting in the west at 1 a.m. CST early in the month. By month’s end it sets at 12:30 a.m. CDT.
Venus and Mars are not visible this month. Venus reaches superior conjunction on March 28 and is set to move into the western evening sky in April to become a bright Evening Star. (See our posting for Venus as an Evening Star, 2013-2014.)
Mars moves deeper into bright evening twilight and approaches conjunction on April 18 then moving into the morning sky visible in the eastern sky before sunrise starting in late June.
With the changing of the seasons and the bright winter stars fading in the western sky, March offers more daylight and the possibilities of a bright comet.