Each Monday I pick out the northern hemisphere’s celestial highlights (mid-northern latitudes) for the week ahead, but be sure to check my main feed for more in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy, eclipses and more.
What To See In The Night Sky This Week: March 6-12, 2023
Have a look to the west after sunset this week and you’ll see bright Venus above Jupiter—a beautiful sight for sure—though this week it’s mostly about the rise of the full “Worm Moon.” The third and final full Moon of winter, it will shine brightly all week and appear full for most of the first half of the week, though the time to see it appear on the eastern horizon will be moonrise where you are on Tuesday, March 7, 2023.
It’s also worth remembering that the week ends with the swap to daylight savings time in the US. Clocks “spring forward” by an hour on Sunday, March 12, 2023 at 1:00 a.m.
Tuesday, March 7: full ‘Worm Moon’ rising
Tonight will offer the best opportunity to watch the full “Worm Moon” rise into a twilight sky from both North America and Europe. In New York sunset is at 5:53 p.m. EST and moonrise is at 6:10 p.m. EST while in London both sunset and moonrise occur at 5:49 p.m. GMT.
Friday, March 10: Moon and Spica
Tonight the waning gibbous Moon will be about 3.4º from Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo and about 250 light-years distant. Have a look to the east before going to bed.
Constellation of the week: Canis Major, the ‘Great Dog’
Canis Major, the “Great Dog,” can this month be seen low in the south if you’re in the northern hemisphere and in the north if you’re in the southern hemisphere. It’s a reasonably difficult constellation to pick out, though it does have one very (very) bright star—Sirius, the “Dog Star.”
The night sky’s brightest star, this blue giant shines at a magnitude 1.4. That puts it behind only our Moon, Jupiter and Venus in terms of brightness. It’s a mere 4.6 light-years distant. The rest of the stars in Canis Major are Adhara, Aludra, Amadioha, Atakoraka, Furud, Mirzam, Muliphein, Sirius, Unurgunite and Wezen, though none are as bright as Sirius or the stars of Orion close by.
In Greek mythology, Sirius was associated with the god Orion and was said to be the dog of the hunter—hence its constellation Canis Major translates as “the big dog” and it’s called the “dog star.”
Object of the week: the full Moon
Most moon-gazers will tell you that its “full” phase isn’t the best time to look at the Moon, but if you catch it at moonrise or moonset it can be a real treat. Not only will the Moon be low in the sky—so very easy to look at with the naked eye or through binoculars without straining your neck—but since the Moon’s light is low at this time it’s easy to observe.
Look at this week’s full Moon as it rises or sets and you’ll see a pale orangey-yellow disk dotted with craters and dark areas that denote ancient seas of lava called mares. We’re so lucky to have such a fascinating object orbiting us—but how often do you actually study it? Top tip: invest in some 10×50 binoculars with a tripod thread and you’ve got a lifetime of observing ahead.
Times and dates given apply to mid-northern latitudes. For the most accurate location-specific information consult online planetariums like Stellarium and The Sky Live. Check planet-rise/planet-set, sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset times for where you are.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.