March Sky Charts

Solar Ephemeris for Kendal

  • on Friday the 15th of March 2024:
  • sunrise occurs 06:22
  • sunset occurs 18:17
  • Astronomical dark begins 20:16
  • Astronomical dark ends 04:21 the next morning

Kendal Ephemerides for today are on our Welcome page

Moon Phase Chart

Phase March 2024
3rd Quarter3rd
New Moon10th
1st Quarter17th
Full Moon25th

Skip down to the sky charts

March Highlights

We are entering Galaxy season with a large number of galaxies well-placed in Ursa Major and Leo. Later in the evening, the Virgo Cluster comes well placed. So, a large number of galactic Messier objects to hunt out plus Markarian’s Chain, an elegant arc of mostly bright galaxies in northern Virgo.

Dominant is Ursa Major, The Great Bear, with its fine collection of objects. Many of these are quite easy even with binoculars. The stars of the prominent asterism of the Plough, also known as The Saucepan, The Big Dipper [primarily in America] or King Charles’s Wain, aren’t actually that bright with none being as bright as first magnitude. Lambda λ and Mu μ, forming one of the rear legs of the Bear, are 1¾ degrees apart and make a fine binocular pairing [or very low power telescopic object] as they are of distinctly different colours; λ is white (spectral type A2) whilst μ is very red (M0). Mizar (magnitude 2.1), in the tail, is an easy naked eye double with Alcor (4.0), separation12’ of arc. Between the two, forming a nice triangle, lies in the eighth magnitude star named Sidus Ludovicianum just visible in x8 binoculars. Mizar is itself double but requires a telescope to separate the two stars.

Using a 4” telescope at x48, a whole host of galaxies are visible: there are two the fine galaxies M81 and M82, M106, 107, 108 and 109. Close to M108 is the slightly brighter Owl Nebula, M97, with its two ‘eyes’. In nearby Canes Venatici, there are another two magnitude 8 spiral galaxies; The Sunflower Galaxy M63 and M94 in addition to the splendid Whirlpool Galaxy M51 at the end of the tail of the Great Bear.

Further west, the Milky Way is still visible with lots of star clusters around Auriga and Perseus: M36, M37 and M38 in Auriga are nice binocular objects. A couple of faint and tantalising binocular clusters I like are near Mirfak in Perseus; follow the line of bright stars through Mirfak away from the Double Cluster, itself a splendid binocular object, and after two stars, bear off into the curving line of stars to the east (left). See if you can spot the faint clusters which appear as compact misty patches just near the last star in the line.

In the south, Orion is prominent in this general direction but setting by midnight mid-month. Past it best but enjoy it whilst you can.

The most obvious telescopic and binocular target is still the Great Orion Nebula, M42, always a joy to look at. The Crab Nebula, M1, roughly midway between Capella and Betelgeuse, is still reasonably well-placed. In nearby Monocerous, NGC2244, the small quadrilateral at the heart of the Rosette nebula is quite good in binoculars and long exposure photographs will pick up the surrounding rosette shaped nebula.

M48 in Monocerous is a well-dispersed open cluster.

Further south in Puppis and Canis Major are several bright open clusters: M41, M46 & M47. Just 9° north of Sirius lies another bright open cluster M50. Further north (up) lies the spectacular open cluster M44, Praesepe or The Beehive Cluster in Cancer.

To the east we have Leo with many galaxies: M65 & M66 are just binocular objects with the third component NGC3628 of the Leo Triplet requiring a telescope. Beneath the belly of the lion are three galaxies; M95, M96 & M105

In addition to Leo, described earlier, just off the lion’s tail lies the constellation Coma Berenices, Berenice’s hair. The three main stars are only about magnitude 4 but the area is rich in stars and well worth sweeping with binoculars. The globular cluster M53 lies just east of the most southern and brightest of this trio of stars, Cor Caroli. Just north is M64, The Black-Eye Galaxy and just within binocular range.

Slightly west straddling the border with Virgo, lies the extensive Virgo Cluster of galaxies. There are too many galaxies to mention here but M86, M87 and M84 are notable. These will be better placed next month at a reasonable time of the evening. M84 and M86 are part of Markarian’s Chain, a smoothly curved line of galaxies in the Virgo Cluster.

Bootes and Hercules are now readily visible. The bright star Arcturus is unmistakable as it is the only really bright star in the area. 12° above Arcturus, midway between Arcturus and Cor Caroli, lies the bright globular cluster M3. A fine binocular object that is well-worth seeking out. Further east and at a similar elevation to Arcturus, lies the large and much brighter globular cluster M13 in Hercules – the most prominent and brightest globular cluster visible from Britain.

Sky Charts for March

Looking up, south is at the bottom.

Looking up in March. South at the bottom.

Looking up in March. South at the bottom. Click for a larger image.

Looking South in March

Looking South

Looking South in March. Click for a larger image.

Looking East in March

Looking East.

Looking East in March. Click for a larger image.

Looking West in March

Looking West.

Looking West in March. Click for a larger image.

Looking North in March

Looking North.

Looking North in March. Click for a larger image.