March 20 – April 2, 2017
Mt. Washington — By the sun’s path in the sky today – and not far off as March turns to April – we can read that spring has arrived in the northern hemisphere. As day dawns at 6:29 a.m. on the 20th, the sun reaches the midpoint of its journey between the extremes marked by the winter and summer solstices. On this, the vernal equinox, let’s pause together to notice sunrise due east on the horizon and the higher arc our star draws as it climbs and then descends to its due west position on the skyline. Sunrise is at 6:57 a.m., sunset at 7:05 p.m. on the 20th. We’ve come through the dark days of winter to the time of equal day and night.
Half an hour after sunset, at a location with a clear view to the western horizon, begin to look for planet Mercury. Venus might still put in an appearance where sky and land meet, close to the lower right of Mercury on the 20th and 21st. Binoculars will be helpful. The Messenger of the Gods planet might best be seen on the 29th when it will have climbed higher above the horizon and our eyes will be guided by a young moon poised to its left. On the 30th, the waxing moon appears to the left of Mars, which is located above Mercury.
Venus leaves the western evening sky this week only to return as the Morning Star before sunrise in the east. The brilliant goddess planet rises about an hour before sunrise as March ends.
Every year as spring begins, astronomy enthusiasts from far and wide converge at the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF), at Rockland Community College in Suffern, New York, a 2- to 3-hour drive from western Massachusetts. NEAF 2017 takes place the weekend of April 8 – 9. Once again, the Rockland Astronomy Club has organized an irresistible line-up of celebrated presenters in the main auditorium as well as formal and informal opportunities for interaction with knowledgeable professionals, amateurs and purveyors of everything related to the study and enjoyment of astronomy.
Opportunities to Participate
April – October, Saturdays at 9 p.m. Public Observatory Observing at the Wilder Observatory, Amherst College: http://amherstastronomy.org/ http://amherstastronomy.org/EventDetails.aspx?EventID=611&Club=1
April 8 & 9, 2017 – Northeast Astronomy Forum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU5OL24XtRM&feature=youtu.be
Sun and Earth – seasons quick: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUW51lvIFjg
Astronomy of the seasons: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taHTA7S_JGk