Multiple celestial bodies and objects are expected to appear in Texas skies this month.
NASA scientists are expecting various celestial events in the month of March, including the appearances of Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus, as well as dwarf planet Ceres.
The gas giant Jupiter, as well as Venus and Ceres, will remain in the skies for the entire month. Jupiter and Venus were in conjunction on March 1 but will continue to drift apart through the course of the month.
Texans can see these two planets with the naked eye in the western sky an hour after sunset. Venus will be the lower of the two planets.
Dwarf planet Ceres is currently in opposition, which brings it to its closest approach to Earth. It will also be at its brightest in the sky for the year. Those who wish to spot the planet, however, will need binoculars or a telescope.
NASA offers the following instructions for viewing Ceres:
“Find the lion constellation Leo in the southeast after around 9pm. The bright, bluish-white star Regulus (the lion’s heart) should catch your eye first. Then look eastward about 25 degrees to find Denebola, which represents the lion’s tail. From there Ceres should be 8 or 9 degrees farther east from Denebola. It appears as a faint, star-like point of light.'”
While these objects will stick around in the sky for the month, a few sightings will occur only on select days.
The final full moon of winter, or “Worm Moon,” will appear in Texas skies from March 6 to 7. This name was coined by Captain Jonathan Carver in the 1760s and refers to a type of beetle larvae that emerges from thawing trees and other places during this time of year, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
The moon’s different phases will also be accompanied by different planets this month.
The crescent moon will make an appearance nearby the ringed gas giant Saturn in the early morning hours of March 19, according to NBC 5 DFW. Viewers can find these two celestial objects in the southeastern sky before sunrise.
Gas giant Uranus will make an appearance alongside the waxing crescent moon on March 24, and Mars will appear with a crescent moon on March 27.
The International Space Station will also pass above Texas skies four times this month for between three and six minutes, depending on the day. NASA’s latest commercial crew in partnership with SpaceX arrived at the space station on March 3, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
The space station will make its first appearance of the month on March 10 at 5:48 a.m., followed by appearances on March 11 at 5:08 a.m., March 13 at 9:04 p.m., and March 15 at 9:05 p.m., according to NBC 5.