Find out what to go out and look at this month


Mercury is not viewable through March as it never leaves the Sun’s glare, but on the 25th of March, it reaches its greatest elongation in the East, marking the moment before retracing its path towards the Sun.

In the early mornings of March, Venus graces the celestial canvas, initiating its celestial journey in the constellation of Capricornus (The Sea-Goat). Its luminous path takes it through the constellation of Aquarius (The Water Bearer), and positions it between the constellations of Cetus (The Sea Monster), and Pisces (The Fish). Notably, on the 22nd of March, Venus shares the cosmic stage with Saturn, creating a mesmerizing spectacle visible through a single telescope eyepiece. Mars, a celestial companion to Venus at the start of March, commences its journey in the constellation of Capricornus, later finding its place in the constellation of Aquarius (The Water Bearer) by the month’s end. Meanwhile, Saturn, concealed by the Sun’s brilliance, reemerges in the evening sky towards the end of March, revealing its presence in the constellation of Aquarius.

As the sun sets, the evening sky unveils Jupiter‘s majestic presence, residing in the celestial expanse between the mythical figures of Cetus (The Sea Monster), and Aries (The Ram). At the beginning of March, Jupiter stands alone before embarking on a captivating cosmic convergence with Uranus, the first of the ice giants, situated between the constellations of Aries and Taurus (The Bull).

Mercury's greatest elongation in the East in the evening of 25/03/24. Image Credit: Stellarium
Venus and Mars on the 15/03/24 at 05:00 am. Image Credit: Stellarium
Jupiter and Uranus on the 15/03/24 at 08:00 pm. Image Credit: Stellarium
Planet When It Rises Or Sets
Mercury Lost to the Sun’s glare
Venus At the start of February, it’ll set at 04:08 am (AWST), and by the end of the month, it’ll set at 05:06 am (AWST)
Mars At the start of February, it’ll sets at 03:51 am (AWST), and by the end of the month, it’ll set at 03:44 am (AWST)
Jupiter At the start of February, it’ll set at 09:39 pm (AWST), and by the end of the month, it’ll set at 07:59 pm (AWST)
Saturn At the end of the month, it’ll rise around 04:20 am (AWST)
Uranus At the start of February, it’ll set at 10:02 pm (AWST), and by the end of the month, it’ll set at 08:08 pm (AWST)
Neptune Lost to the Sun’s glare

Conjunctions And Occultations:

Conjunctions involve object(s) in the Solar System and/or more distant objects, such as a star. It’s an apparent phenomenon in which multiple objects which aren’t close together appear close in the sky and it’s caused by the observer’s perspective.

In an occultation, an object passes across the line of sight between an observer and another object. A solar eclipse is an occultation of the Sun by the Moon.

  • 04/03/24 – Conjunction of The Moon, and Antares (Where to look)
  • 08/03/24 – Conjunction of The Moon, Venus, and Mars (Where to look)
  • 09/03/24 – Conjunction of The Moon, and Venus (Where to look)
  • 14/03/24 – Conjunction of The Moon, Jupiter, and Uranus (Where to look)
  • 15/03/24 – Conjunction of The Moon, and Pleiades (Where to look)
  • 19/03/24 – Conjunction of The Moon, Castor, and Pollux (Where to look)
  • 22/03/24 – Conjunction of Venus, and Saturn (Where to look)
  • 22/03/24 – Conjunction of The Moon, and Regulus (Where to look)
  • 26/03/24 – Conjunction of The Moon, and Spica (Where to look)
  • 31/03/24 – Conjunction of The Moon, and Antares (Where to look)

Astronomical Events This Month:

The March Equinox:

Equinoxes and Solstices. Image Credit:

On Wednesday the 20th of March, The Northward Equinox occurs at 11:07 am (AWST), marking the beginning of astronomical Spring for the Northern Hemisphere, and the start of Autumn for the Southern Hemisphere. This is an exact moment when the Sun’s declination equals 0 as seen from the Earth. The two points where the ecliptic or the imaginary path the Sun seem to trace out along the celestial sphere meets the celestial equator are known as the equinoctial points.

The Equinox (literally meaning ‘equal nights’ in Latin) means that night and day are nearly equal worldwide, and that the Sun rises due east of an observer on the equinox and sets due west. The term Equilux is sometimes used to discern the difference between the true Equinox and the point when sunlight length equals the length of the night. Several factors play a role in this, including the time it takes the physical diameter of the Sun to clear the horizon, atmospheric refraction, and the observer’s true position in their respective time zone. The Equilux occurs within a few days of either Equinox.

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse:

On March 25th, 2024, a penumbral lunar eclipse will occur. This type of lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth’s outer shadow, known as the “penumbra” (From the Latin paene ‘almost, nearly’). During this event, the Moon will appear slightly darker than usual, as it will only be partially covered by the penumbra.

This penumbral lunar eclipse unfortunately, will not be visible from Western Australia, but it will be visible for much of Europe, North/East Asia, Much of Australia, Much of Africa, North America, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic, Antarctica. A penumbral lunar eclipse is not as spectacular as a partial or a total lunar eclipse, but it still offers a unique opportunity to witness a rare astronomical event. Skywatchers will be able to see the subtle changes in the Moon’s brightness and colour as it passes through the penumbra. However, these changes will be quite subtle and may be difficult to discern without careful observation.

To observe the penumbral lunar eclipse, no special equipment is required. The eclipse will be visible to the naked eye from most locations, weather permitting. It is best to find a location with an unobstructed view of the Moon, away from any bright city lights that may interfere with visibility. With a little patience and a clear sky, skywatchers will be able to witness the beauty of the universe in action.

Event UTC Time Time in Sydney*
Penumbral Eclipse begins 25th of March at 04:53:16 am Below horizon
Maximum Eclipse 25th of March at 07:12:51 am 25th of March at 07:03:51 am
Penumbral Eclipse ends 25th of March at 09:32:27 am 6th of March at 08:32:27 am
A Penumbral Lunar Eclipse from Rome on the 11th of February 2017. Image Credit: Gianluca Masi
The Penumbral Lunar Eclipse from Sydney on the 25th of March 2024. Image Credit:
March's Penumbral Lunar Eclipse viewing map. Image Credit:
How a Penumbral Lunar Eclipse occurs. Image Credit:

Things to Look at This Month:

Christmas Tree Cluster:

The Christmas Tree Cluster (NGC 2264) is a young open cluster located in the constellation Monoceros (The Unicorn). It’s part of the NGC 2264 region, along with the Cone Nebula and the Fox Fur Nebula. The cluster is located 2,700 light-years away from Earth and about 30 light-years across. The stars in the cluster were formed very recently from the surrounding molecular cloud. The cluster contains more than 600 stars that are 1 to 4 million years old.

The Christmas Tree Cluster is visible to the naked eye in good conditions and appears quite striking in binoculars. The Christmas tree shape can be seen in small telescopes at low power. The cluster can be found using the brightest stars of Orion and following a line drawn from Bellatrix to Betelgeuse to the east and a little bit north. The Christmas Tree Cluster is named for its triangular shape, formed by very young stars, that looks like a tree in visible light. It is in the northern part of NGC 2264, just above the Cone Nebula. The Christmas Tree Cluster was discovered by William Herschel on January 18, 1784.

Christmas Tree Cluster on the 15/03/24 at 09:00 pm. Image Credit: Stellarium
The Christmas Tree Cluster. Image Credit: Tom Matheson
Beehive Cluster:

The Beehive Cluster (M44) is an open cluster of faint stars in the constellation of Cancer, and it’s also known as Praesepe (Latin for manger). The cluster is not quite bright enough to clearly be seen as stars but more like a ‘cloud’. It’s easily visible to the naked eye and has been known since prehistoric times. Since the Greeks in ~3 centuries BC, it has been described as a small cloud or nebula and is the origin of the term as no other naked eye object had a similar appearance.

Its true nature was not shown until Galileo used the first astronomical telescope in 1609 to discover that it was in fact a collection of about 40 stars. We now know of 200 core stars, but there could be possibly up to 1000 stars in an extended area of nearly 3 Moon diameters. The cluster is 15 light-years in diameter, and it is 550 light-years away from Earth. The cluster contains a high proportion of variable stars of age 500-700 million years, this age of the cluster and its proper motion also coincide with those of the Hyades cluster in the constellation of Taurus, which suggests they may share similar origins.

Beehive Cluster on the 15/03/24 at 09:00 pm. Image Credit: Stellarium
The Beehive Cluster. Image Credit: Bob Franke
The Ghost of Jupiter Nebula:

The Ghost of Jupiter Nebula (NGC 3242) is a planetary nebula with a blueish-green tinge in the constellation of Hydra (The Water Snake) and it’s located 1,400 light-years away from Earth while being 0.3 light-years across. It’s one of the brightest planetary nebulae, however, it’s less than 1 arc minute in size and so it needs a high magnification and a large aperture telescope (16″ or more) to show its structure well. A planetary nebula is an emission nebula. However, rather than being a star formation area like the Orion Nebula (M42), it’s part of the late lifecycle of a star that has blown off a shell of material in a nova-style explosion. This shell of gas is irradiated by ultraviolet radiation from the remaining white dwarf and results in the emission nebulae from the shell of gases that is expanding from the star. This will also be the end result for our Sun at the end of its life.

The central star of the Ghost of Jupiter is in a triple-star system with a close brown dwarf and a more distant sun-like star in a 4000-year orbit around the other two. Planetary nebulae are generally spherical objects and relatively small in size, which is why they look like planetary discs in small telescopes. They are generally very short-lived phenomena of a few tens of thousands of years which then fade and become more tenuous as they recede from their source star. The Ghost of Jupiter Nebula happens to have a similar angular diameter to hence the ‘Jupiter’ part of its name first coined by Admiral William Smyth in 1837. Also known as the Eye Nebula, it was discovered by William Herschel in 1785.

Ghost of Jupiter Nebula on the 15/03/24 at 09:00 pm. Image Credit: Stellarium
The Ghost of Jupiter Nebula. Image Credit: Adam Block
Centaurus A Galaxy:

Centaurus A (NGC 5128) is an elliptical galaxy that we see edge-on. The galaxy is the fifth brightest galaxy in the sky and one of the closest radio galaxies to Earth. It’s between 10 to 16 million light-years away from us and it can be found in the Centaurus constellation. The galaxy itself has a diameter of 60,000 light-years making it 40% smaller than our galaxy and at its centre, it has a supermassive black hole with a mass of 55 million suns. It was discovered in 1826 by Scottish astronomer James Dunlop from Parramatta, in New South Wales.

It’s a starburst galaxy meaning that it is undergoing a period of intense star formation compared to an average galaxy. Studies have confirmed that this high rate of star birth is caused by a collision between itself and a smaller spiral galaxy. The bright central bulge and the dark dust lane can be easily viewed using an amateur telescope however a larger telescope is required to view greater detail and contrast. Centaurus A is an extremely bright radio object, X-rays in particular. The central supermassive black hole is the source of this with two long radio jets extending well beyond the visual bounds of the galaxy.

Centaurus A on the 15/03/24 at 09:00 pm. Image Credit: Stellarium
The Centaurus A Galaxy - Image Credit: ESO/WFI (Optical); MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al. (Submillimetre); NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al. (X-ray)

Phases Of The Moon:

March 2024 Moon phases