Highlights for the month:
- Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars shine in the morning sky.
- Moon joins the trio March 18
- Mars passes Jupiter on March 20
- Mars passes Saturn on March 31
- Three planets closest since April 2000
For those readers wanting more details, click Semi-technical daily notes for the month
The three bright outer planets – Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars – shine in the southeastern sky before sunrise. Look about one hour before sunrise.
On the image above, the planets span nearly 19°. Jupiter is the brightest planet in the group. Saturn is to the lower left, near the horizon. Mars, dimmer than Saturn, appears to the upper Jupiter’s upper left.
The charts on this page identify two stars that can be used to note how the planets are moving. The stars are not as bright as the planets, but they make an unmoving background to watch the eastward motion of the planets.
Each morning the scene changes with Mars getting closer to Jupiter. Jupiter slowly ambles toward Saturn for the Great Conjunction that occurs in December 2020.
On March 15, Jupiter is over 15° up in the southeast. The Red Planet, only 2.7° to Jupiter’s upper right, continues to close the gap on the Giant Planet. Saturn is 7.4° to Jupiter’s lower left. The three planets span 10.1° this morning.