Society News and Night Sky Notes – March 1999

Society News Headlines

  • Mar 1st – Regulus is o.2° South of Moon.
  • Mar 4th – Comet P/1998 U4 (Spahr) at Perihelion. (3.826 AU).
  • Mar 3rd – 30th Anniversary (1969) of Apollo 9 launch. Lunar Module tested in Earth Orbit.
  • Mar 3rd – Mercury: Greatest elongation 18° East.
  • Mar 5th – 20th Anniversary (1979) of Voyager 1 flyby of Jupiter.
  • Mar 6th – BAA Deep Sky Section Meeting 11:00 -17:00, Northampton.
  • Mar 7th – Mars is 3° South of Moon.
  • Mar 7th – BBC’s Sky at Night with Patrick Moore.(Rept BBC2 on March 13th).
  • Mar 7th – Comet P/1998 U3 (Jager) at Perihelion. (2.153 AU).
  • Mar 8th – Comet Tsuchinshan II at Perihelion. (1.771 AU).
  • Mar 9th – Mercury is Stationary.
  • Mar 9th – Comet Skiff-Kosai at Perihelion. (2.789 AU).
  • Mar 13th – Neptune 1.4° South of Moon.
  • Mar 14th – Uranus 1.3° South of Moon.
  • Mar 15th – Pluto Stationary.
  • Mar 16th – 102P/Comet Shoemaker I at Perihelion. (1.979 AU).
  • Mar 18th – Mars Stationary.
  • Mar 18th – Jupiter is 3° North of Moon.
  • Mar 19th – Mercury at Inferior Conjunction.
  • Mar 19th – Liverpool Astronomical Society Monthly MeetingCCD Astronomy – Mr David Ratledge:7pm at lecture room, NMGM Liverpool Museum, Wm Brown St.
  • Mar 19th – SPA Alston Hall Weekend. (ends March 21st).Amateur Telescopic Observing.Speakers incl Dr Eric Strach.
  • Mar 20th – Saturn is 3° North of the moon.
  • Mar 20th – Venus is 3° North of Saturn.
  • Mar 20th – Pex Hill Observatory Public Open Day & Night.
  • Mar 20th – SPA meeting at the London Planetarium, 10:00
  • Mar 21st – Comet Mueller III at Perihelion. (3.010 AU).
  • Mar 21st – Vernal Equinox at 01:46UT.
  • Mar 22nd – Lunar Occulation of Alpha Tauri (Aldebaran). D18h:23m, R19h:22m for Liverpool.
  • Mar 24th – Vesta is Stationary.
  • Mar 25th – 25th Anniversary (1974) of Mariner 10 first Mercury flyby.
  • Mar 25th – LAS sidewalk astronomers event: 7pm Stadt Moers Country Park, Pottery lane, Huyton.
  • Mar 27th – BAA Special General Meeting (link removed as URL is invalid) followed by the Ordinary Meeting. 14:30 – 17:30.Savile Row, London.
  • Mar 28th – Regulus 0.3° South of Moon.
  • Mar 28th – British Summer Time Begins (TBC).
  • Mar 30th – The Astronomer Royal to give the 10th Leverhulme Memorial Lecture: Our Universe & Others at 17:30 at Liverpool University. Tickets from G.Gilligan.
  • Mar 31st – Blue Moon, second full moon of the month.


Will it be cloudy to-night?, ask the The U.K. Goverment Met Office Weather service. To make your own star chart fo your location at any time, Click Here.

Sky map for March 1999

Sky map for March 1999

The Sun and Moon

All times are in GMT the same as U.T. Times For Observer in Liverpool, Merseyside, England, U.K. BST begins on MARCH 28th

Latitude 53 degs 24 mins North.
Longitude +3.0 degs West.

            2nd      7th       12th      17th      22nd      27th       1st Apr
SUNRISE    06:58     06:46     06:34     06:22     06:10     05:58      05:56
SUNSET     17:52     18:01     18:11     18:00     18:29     18:38      18:47


on 2nd
at 07h:00m
on 10th
at 08h:41m
on 17th
at 18h:49m
on 24th
at 10h:19m
on 31st
at 22h:50m

March 21st marks the date of the Spring Equinox when the Sun crosses the celestial equator in Pisces heading North. March is also the month when the clocks are traditionally advanced by one hour in Britain to take us into British Summer Time. As far as this page is concerned, you will have to added one hour to any times stated to obtain BST.





Mercury is at its best in the evening sky this month. with it lying in the rather faint constellation of Aquarius there are no bright stars around to confuse you when trying to indentify the planet. Wait until half an hour after the Sun has set and slowly scan the Western horizon with binoculars, moving up slightly after each sweep.

Planets on view in the South-Western evening sky, February - March 1999

Planets on view in the South-Western evening sky, February – March 1999

Placing the binoculars on a camera tripod should assist in this. Mercury will soon give its location away by being the first ‘star’ to show itself (apart from Venus and Jupiter which are higher up and much, much brighter) as the sky darkens. On the 19th Mercury is back at the Sun for an Inferior conjunction.


On the 20th the Moon passes a wide 6° South of Venus as they travel through the constellation of Pisces, presenting an excellent opportunity for a photographic record. Also on the 20th Venus and Saturn lie 2.5° apart, Venus being the much brighter of the pair.

Sky map: Venus, Saturn and the Moon in the South-Western evening sky, February - March 1999

Venus, Saturn and the Moon in the South-Western evening sky, February – March 1999


Mars is very well placed in the early eveing sky. You should by now br familiar with its position against the background stars of Virgo as it tracks to the East. Note though that this month Mars slows its apparent motion and early in April starts to move Westwards. This is known as Retrograde motion and is a phenomenon caused by the Earth orbiting the Sun at a faster rate than Mars. Using background stars as a reference the Earth overtakes Mars and starts to head away leaving Mars lagging behind. After a period of a couple of months or so normal prograde motion resumes. On the 7th Mars is 2° South of the Moon.

MARSWATCH – latest observations of the red planet.


8 Flora can be found in Virgo at Mag 10 during the month. Its at opposition on March 23rd.

For More information on Asteroids Click Here.


Jupiter is now unfavourably close to the Sun for observations.

Launched in October 1989, the Galileo Jupiter Probe entered orbit around the great planet on December 7th 1995. The Project Galileo Homepage will give you up-to-date information and the very latest images returned.


Saturn, its brief dalliance with Venus now over, will soon move too close to the Sun to be observed.


Both outer planets are unfavourable for observations at this time.


Pluto can be found in Ophiuchus, above the 2nd magnitude star Zeta Ophiuchi. The best time to look for the planet is when the Moon is not around. With this in mind the dates given below, calculated as either side of the New Moon, maybe used as a guide for planning an observing session.

Best seen between March 10th and March 24th.

The Positions have been calculated for every ten days at 00h U.T. throughout the period of March 1999 when Pluto's elongation angle is greater than 90°.
 Positions are for Epoch 2000.
Date                        R.A.                DEC              TRANSIT              ELG
                           h  m  s           °     '  "           Time                 °
Mar 2nd                   16 39 26          -10    24 57         06h:16m              091
Mar 12th                  16 39 37          -10    22 13         05h:37m              100
Mar 22nd                  16 39 34          -10    19 05         04h:47m              110



No Major showers during March.


  • Mar 4th – Comet P/1998 U4 (Spahr) at Perihelion (3.826 AU).
  • Mar 7th – Comet P/1998 U3 (Jager) at Perihelion (2.153 AU).
  • Mar 8th – Comet Tsuchinshan II at Perihelion (1.771 AU).
  • Mar 9th – Comet Skiff-Kosai at Perihelion (2.789 AU).
  • Mar 16th – Comet Shoemaker I at Perihelion (1.979 AU).
  • Mar 21st – Comet Mueller III at Perihelion (3.010 AU).

Plus these pages will give daily and weekly reports of this and other Comets progress.


  • Mar 22nd at 18h:23m Disappearance of Alpha Tauri (Aldebaran).
  • Mar 22nd at 19h:33m Reappearance of Alpha Tauri (Aldebaran).Bright Limb
  • Mar 31st at 04h:09m Disappearance of Sigma Leonis