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03/03/2021 – Ephemeris – Let’s search for the naked-eye planets for this week

March 3, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Wednesday, March 3rd. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 17 minutes, setting at 6:33, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:14. The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 12:09 tomorrow morning.

Let’s search for the naked-eye planets for this week. Unfortunately the only one you’ll find is Mars. The other four are hanging out in the direction of the Sun and won’t be seen for a week or so. Mars can be found high in the west-southwest and below left of the Pleiades at 8 pm tonight. Mars will be due south of the Pleiades tonight, which from our cockeyed view of the heavens, from north of the equator, places Mars below and left of the Pleiades. The Red Planet will set at 1:20 am. Of the outer planets Mars is the fastest, being the nearest to the Sun, and to the Earth. So unlike Jupiter, Saturn, and the stars which rise and set about four minutes earlier each night, Mars sets about a minute earlier each night now.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Mars south of Pleiades animation

Here’s an animation showing why Mars being south of the Pleiades doesn’t look like it in the sky. This is all about directions on the celestial sphere. This will be the position of Mars at 8 pm on March 3rd, 2021, seen in the west-southwest. It is a three frame animation. The first is without coordinate grids as one would see it from about 45 degrees north latitude. The second frame contains the equatorial grid. The lines to the upper right point to the North Pole of the sky near Polaris, so that’s north. The third frame has an alt-azimuth grid. Its lines run vertically and horizontally. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

Binocular Moon

The moon as it might appear in binoculars at 6 am tomorrow morning March 4, 2021. Created using Stellarium.

Planets and the Moon on a single night

Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on March 3, 2021. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 4th. There is a planet traffic jam in the morning and the symbols and labels for Jupiter and Mercury overlap. Unfortunately these planets rise too soon before the Sun to be seen for us up north. It is a great sight for Southern Hemisphere observers. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.