NIGHT SKY IN MARCH

-By Rishi Shah

As darkness descends on earth, the entire night sky comes alive with mesmerizing marvels of our arcane universe. Avid sky-gazers could relish on the splendid spectacle of planets and enjoy the alluring exhibits of stars, galaxies and nebulae that spread all over dark night skies from dusk till dawn. The zodiacal constellations of Pisces (fishes), Aries (ram), Taurus (bull), Gemini (twins), Cancer (crab) and Leo (lion) are unfurling across the heavens from western to eastern horizon. Pentagon-shaped constellation Auriga (charioteer) is dominatingly present in the evening sky almost overhead with its fascinatingly bright star Capella (Brahma Ridaya). It is fairly fourty five light-years away.

Kite-resembling Bootes (herdsman) along with petit Canes Venatici (hunting dogs) is ascending the eastern sky. Long constellation

Hydra (water serpent) is slithering across southern sky. Circumpolar constellations Cepheus (king), Cassiopeia (queen), Ursa Major (great bear) and Draco (dragon) are encircling the Pole Star Polaris (Dhruba Tara) remarkably in northern sky. Polaris, about 433 light-years away, is dwelling cozily in Ursa Minor (little bear).

The shimmering curtain of our galaxy, the Milky Way runs awesomely through Cassiopeia, Auriga, Monoceros (unicorn) and Puppis (stern of legendary ship Argo) from northwestern to southeastern sky.

Merely twelve million light-years away, the irregular galaxy NGC4449 embellishes Canes Venatici

The reddish glow dramatizes NGC4449’s the rolling star forming regions and blue star clusters that sketch huge sweeping interstellar spiraling arcs and bizarre bubbles being blown away by short-lived mammoth stars. Vibrantly engrossing NGC6914 Nebulae decorate the high-flying Cygnus (swan) soaring in eastern sky

Planet Venus shines exquisitely in eastern sky before daybreak. Far-flung bluish planet Neptune could be perceived above Venus, if peered carefully. These planet duos are wandering in Aquarius (water bearer) from eastern section of Capricornus (sea goat). Planet Jupiter could be admired in western sky after nightfall, as it gleams enticingly in Pisces. Jupiter is at perihelion (nearest distance to Sun) on 17 March and is simply 740 million kilometers away from Sun. Fleetingly elusive planet Mercury could be discerned below Jupiter during the beginning of month.

The charming Circlet asterism of Pisces hovers roughly above them. Ringed planet Saturn glitters gorgeously among the stars in Virgo, as it rises a bit later after sunset in eastern sky. Two resplendent stars Spica (Chitra) in Virgo and Arcturus (Swati) in Bootes are floating conspicuously over and under Saturn.

A strange star system dubbed KOI-730 that could have two planets in the same orbit has been disclosed recently by NASA’s Kepler project. Two planets out of four are hobbling weirdly around the parent star in just under ten days and are seemingly sharing the same path. The planets would be circling the chief star in ostensibly quirky Trojan configuration (whizzing sixty degrees in front of and behind another object).

When one body (as planet) dashes around more massive body (star), there are two gravitational sweet spots (Lagrange points named after famed French mathematician Joseph Louis Lagrange) along the planet’s trajectory where the third entity can streak around firmly. These positions lie sixty degrees ahead of and sixty degrees behind the main object. For suitable comparison in our Solar System a group of asteroids nicknamed Trojans perplexingly leads and trails mighty planet Jupiter in similar manner.

The full moon or popularly known as worm full moon marking joyously colourful holi celebrations would enthrall us all on 19 March, while new moon occurred on 04 March. Vernal Equinox can be experienced on 21 March.On this day the duration of day and night is per se equal worldwide.

Source: The Rising Nepal, March 9, 2011

Comments

  1. Very useful Rishi sir. Where can I find sketches to locate these heavenly bodies? I am a novice star-gazer. Surendra Phuyal

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment