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What’s up in the sky?: Week of 03/15-03/21

Waxing Gibbous Moon over Staunton
Waxing Gibbous Moon over Staunton(Tony Alverson)
Published: Mar. 14, 2021 at 11:56 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 14, 2021 at 11:58 PM EDT
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(WHSV) - We have made it back to Daylight Saving Time! Sunsets will now be after 7:21 pm until September 16th, 2021! Here’s your weekly astronomy report.

ISS Viewing (Most Viewable)

Date and TimeTime VisibleMaximum Height (Degrees above the horizon)Direction it AppearsDirection it Disappears
Thu March 18, 8:37 pm5 min83°appears above SWdisappears above NE
Wed March 17, 9:25 pm2 min39°appears above WSWdisappears above WNW

As we head closer to summer, we will continue to gain 2.5 minutes of daylight every day through March 25th.

Interesting Fact: The Spring Equinox is on Saturday March 20th; this is when spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere. This is the first day the sun angles more in the Northern Hemisphere than the Southern Hemisphere. This is when we begin to see higher latitude locations in the Northern Hemisphere have more daylight than lower latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere.

Harrisonburg will have approximately equal daylight and nighttime March 16-17.
Harrisonburg will have approximately equal daylight and nighttime March 16-17.(WHSV)

Moon Phases & Next Full Moon:

Moon PhaseDate and Time
First Quarter MoonMarch 21st, 10:41 am
Full MoonMarch 28th, 2:50 pm
Third Quarter MoonApril 4th, 6:04 am
New MoonApril 11th, 10:32 pm

The next full moon is called many things. The Worm Moon, named for the fact that the ground begins to thaw, and earthworms reappear. The Crow Moon because the cawing of crows signals the end of winter. The Sap Moon noted for the time to tap maple trees to create syrup and the Lenten Moon because it occurs around the time of Christian Lent.

Other Interesting Events:

On March 16th in the western sky after sunset, the new crescent moon will be positioned several finger widths to the lower left of Uranus. Typically, the moon is too bright to see Uranus but since the moon will be a new crescent moon, both will be visible in the same pair of binoculars. You can use the star Menkar in Cetus which will be to the moon’s left and the stars Hamal and Sheratan in Aries which will be to the moon’s right to help locate Uranus.

Usually the moon is too bright to see Uranus when it passes but not on March 16th.
Usually the moon is too bright to see Uranus when it passes but not on March 16th.(Stellarium)

On March 19th, look in the southwestern sky for the reddish medium bright dot of Mars shining several finger widths to the lower right of the crescent moon. Both the moon and Mars will set in the west around 1 am local time.

On March 19th, both the moon and Mars will both be visible within binoculars.
On March 19th, both the moon and Mars will both be visible within binoculars.(Stellarium)

On March 21st, the next first quarter moon will happen. Once the sky fully darkens March 21st, the moon will be four finger widths to the upper left of the star cluster in Gemini known as Messier 35 or the Shoe-Buckle Cluster. The cluster of stars can be visible with binoculars and are located to the right of Tejat and Propus.

The next first quarter moon will occur March 21st.
The next first quarter moon will occur March 21st.(Stellarium)

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