Skywatch Line for Monday and Tuesday, March 28th and 29th

This is the Skywatch Line for Monday and Tuesday, March 28th and 29th.

The Sun sets at 7:17 PM; night falls at 8:54. Dawn begins at 5:05 AM and ends with the Sun rising at 6:42.

Jupiter is the only bright Solar System member visible until after Midnight. Its minus 2.4 magnitude outshines all the bright stars nearby, including the sky’s brightest star – Sirius. Jupiter is parked near Leo’s hind leg, and is best observed about 11:30 PM. Jupiter sets at 6:05 AM.

As has been mentioned during the last few weeks, this is the “season” for double shadow transits. Tuesday, after Midnight, one takes place; it will be a telescopic observer’s dream. Jupiter’s moon Io begins to cross the planet’s face; at 2 AM, the Jovian moon Europa begins its trek. At 2:10, Io’s shadow follows its moon. Europa’s shadow follows its moon at 3AM. By 4:47 AM, both moons and their shadows exit Jupiter. During this event, Io and Europa bracket the Great Red Spot, a giant storm on Jupiter. The Great Red Spot, without accompanying moons, can also be seen at 10:11 PM, Tuesday. Several more double shadow transits occur during the first week of April.

The southern sky becomes crowded after Midnight. The twenty-day-old Moon rises in Ophiuchus and remains up the rest of the night. Tuesday it appears about 72 percent; Wednesday sees it shrink to 62 percent.

The Moon has company. Mars, in Scorpius, rises shortly before the Moon and accompanies it. Tuesday night it is about seven degrees West of the Moon; Wednesday finds it nineteen degrees away. Mars continues to brighten and grow larger in our telescopes. It is now at minus 0.5 magnitude bright, 11.5 arc seconds in diameter, and about 92 percent illuminated.

In Ophiuchus, Saturn rises about 12:48 AM about nine degrees East of Mars. Its ring system is always worth viewing. The bright star Antares, in Scorpius, lies about six degrees below Mars. Tuesday’s Moon-Saturn-Mars-Antares grouping is also a sight one should not miss.

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