Episode 304 – Objects to Observe in March 2023 Show Notes

March 1st – There will be a conjunction of Jupiter and Venus, for us in central North America they will be about a ½ degree apart, that’s still close enough to see in the same field of view in most low- medium power telescopes! So you’ll see the crescent of Venus and maybe Jupiter’s Moons. Now for Europe I think they can see the pair as close as 0.1 degrees! These are neat events to see as the planetary colours take on different hues.

On March 7th – We have the Full Moon ruining our skies.

Friday the 10th to Friday the 24th it’s Zodical prime time. I saw it last month but hope to get a better view in the coming weeks. So this is the best time period 

to see this naked eye phenomenon. What is it? What does it look like? Look into the Western Sky just after it gets dark…looks like a false sunset or light pollution.

Image by Melody Hamilton

March 20th – Spring Equinox and it’s also Saint Patrick’s Day in Newfoundland

March 21st – New Moon, so get out and enjoy the dark skies and hopefully

warmer spring weather. On this night Ceres is also at opposition, meaning it’s at it’s best and brightest, Mag. 6.9 so making it a starlike binocular object. 

Ceres is a dwarf planet in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It was the first asteroid discovered, on 1 January 1801, by Giuseppe Piazzi at Palermo Astronomical Observatory in Sicily and announced as a new planet. Ceres was later classified as an asteroid and then a dwarf planet – the only one orbiting entirely within Neptune‘s orbit.

The Dawn spacecraft really cleaned up when in 2015 it found Ceres’s surface to be a mixture of water ice, and watery minerals. Ceres has an ice-rock mantle/core and a less dense but stronger crust that is at most 30% ice. Ceres has a briny watery mixture that flows through the outer mantle and reaches the surroughly every fifty million years. This makes Ceres the closest known cryovolcanic body to the Sun, and the briny water might create a habitat for microbial life. The erupting water geysers create a temporary  thin atmosphere.

March 22nd – Jupiter to the right of the Moon this evening making for a nice pair or astro-landscape photo. 

March 25th – Uranus 1.5 degrees below and to the right of the Moon this evening.

March 26th – last week of March you can try spotting Vega and Sirius Naked eye in the daytime sky. Watch out for the Sun.

March 27th – Another Conjunction but this time Jupiter and Mercury are 1.3-degrees apart. Low down, pretty tough. 

March 28th – Lunar X is visible on the Moon.

March 30th – Straight Wall is visible on the Moon.

March 31st – Uranus is 1.3 degrees above and left of Venus this evening.

Comets – We’ve lost E3 ZTF to the southerners . You also need to be south around 30-degrees below the equator to See K2 Panstarrs…which is 8th magnitude. We have a strong contingent down south now, I’m going to call a few people to get their scopes out and take a look for us at comet ZTF< I’ll miss a few people I’m sure but here goes. People in Argentina are listening with Brian down there, Raul is in Chile and sent us some kind words recently, we have Filipi in Brazil, He’s busy with family stuff right now, Andrew in New Zealand, Benn & Wade & Aussie Ant in Australia, get the scopes out folks…

Observing Report:

Observing Log January 2023

Chasing a comet By Berta 

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF)

Wed January 18 2023, from a Backyard.

On that day I woke up at 6am to try and see the comet from my south facing Edmonton backyard. The night was clear and on the cold side at -13C. Seeing felt above average to me, while transparency was below average due to some mist and cirrus clouds. 

She started by trying to point the 4” refractor in Bootes

Finally at around 7am I found C/2022 E3 (ZTF)! I saw it as a whitish faint fuzzy circle with my 40mm (x20, 3.4 deg) eyepiece, which is the one that I used for star hopping. My Plossl 25 mm (x33, 1.57 deg) gave me the best view of this comet: the best compromise between zoom and detail.  I took my time to carefully observe the fuzzy ball and try to pry out as much detail as possible to sketch. I really could not make a tail, no matter how hard I looked. This comet appeared as a round, fuzzy and very dim ball with a brighter round core. I only saw a whitish colour. 

I drew the stars at the eyepiece, and I added the comet later at home from memory, as my first attempt at the eyepiece turned out to be very different from what I observed. The comet appeared dimmer than what the sketch shows. According to SkySafari the comet was at +6.7 magnitude on that night. 

That foggy and dewy dawn left a layer of rime frost on the trees, making the branches ( and my scope!) look like frosted candy when it was time to pack up. Beautifully magical, it was a wonderful short (1.5h) observing session. 

Sunday January 22 2023, in a Cemetery near Mundare. With Alister Ling

Alister offered me to go observing at the dark location near Mundare. Even though it was  a Sunday and the next day I had to wake up early, it was also really warm for being winter, so I felt that I couldn’t let this wonderful opportunity pass by. 

We located the comet with Alister’s binoculars just above the tree line. I would say that the bino view was the best comet view for me that night. It was easy to locate by just swiping the binos in the right direction, although I couldn’t observe this comet by eye (Alister could). It looked like a star ” that is not quite right”, as Alister very rightfully described it. I could clearly see a gray-whitish nucleus, coma and short wide tail. SkySafari gave it a visual magnitude of +6.2 on that night.

My 10″ dob with a 25mm eyepiece gives a x48 magnification, enough to see the coma, tail and anti-tail. One striking thing for me was the sock-wave-shape that the coma had around the nucleus, which looked like a brighter boomerang-shaped area around it. The tail became almost invisible looking away from the nucleus, even with my 10″ of aperture.

Alister taught me to look at the tail and the anti tail by hiding the nucleus just out of my FOV and moving the scope slightly to record the movement of the fuzzy halo with my eyes. This way I could see the tail extend a little bit farther, but the anti-tail was still hard to make out for me.

I spent almost one hour observing, sketching and trying to see as much detail as possible of this comet.  The sketch shown was done completely at the eyepiece. 

Alister captured a set of very nice pictures from the comet on that night. 

In summary, this January has been filled with warmer than average days and some wonderful observing nights.

2 thoughts on “Episode 304 – Objects to Observe in March 2023 Show Notes

  1. Thanks for this great list. My main goal this month is to see Ceres for the first time. In addition to hitting opposition, I was just mucking about in Stellarium and see that it will appear within a few arc-min of M91 on the 11th, and then right inside M100 on the 26th. I need both for my Messier list and the addition of Ceres in my sketches would make for a couple of pretty cool observations 🤞


  2. Thank you both for this great podcast. Really appreciate you posting these notes. I was listening with notebook and pen taking notes when you said you’d post the list in the show notes! Whoohoo!


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