Space Junk: March 2015

Photo Credit & Copyright: ME of the big grey rock in the sky.

Below I have listed most of the major night sky events for this month, birthdays, events in history etc. I have also listed all resources used to generate these monthly calendars at the bottom of the post so dig in, learn and enjoy!

Here’s a list of all major 2015 Celestial Events here:

Interested in Planetary Motions for 2015? Here ya go!:

How about Meteor Showers for 2015?

You want Eclipse info too?! Ok fine!

WERE YOU BORN ON A FULL MOON?! This great page from Moon Giant shows you what phase the Moon was in when you were born; check it out. (this may not work on your phone):

All dates and times were calculated using Military Time & Universal Time (UTC) and I also throw in eastern U.S. time (EST or EDT depending on whether its Daylight Savings or not) but beware, early morning events for UTC will actually likely be late night events on the previous date for the US. For example if something is scheduled to occur at 02:00 UTC on the 14th, that’s 21:00 EST on the 13th.

Another important thing to remember is that a calendar day is actually daylight sandwiched between two darks so when an event says, March 29 for example, you’ve got to check the time because March 29 could very well be in the morning before sunrise and not that coming night.

Finally, calculating events on the Moon is that it’s not as simple as “Ok it’s 40% illuminated so we should see this.” I wish it was that easy but because of libration, locations on the disk of the moon move slightly as we see them. One month an event could occur at 52% illumination and the next month it could occur at 54% illumination.

MARCH 01 (Sun) – Entering the month the Moon is 11 days old in its 29.53 day Synodic Cycle and 85% illuminated in its waxing gibbous phase.

MARCH (All Month in mid-northern latitudes) – If you have dark skies (I mean REALLY dark) look west about an hour to an hour and a half after sunset to witness the “False Dawn” or Zodiacal Light rising high into the sky along the plane of the ecliptic. Want more info?

MARCH (All Month) – Only a month past Opposition, Jupiter is still looking great through March. Keep an eye on it, look for the Great Red Spot and the 4 Galilean moons as they will be eclipsing and occulting each other through summer in a process known as “mutual events.”

MARCH 01 (Sun) – Meteorological Spring begins!

MARCH 01, 1966: Soviet Venera 3 becomes 1 man-made object to impact another planet (failed landing).

MARCH 02, 2004: ESA Rosetta launch.

MARCH 03, 1847: Birth of Alexander Graham Bell.

MARCH 03, 1968: Happy Birthday Brian Cox.

MARCH 03, 1969: Launch of Apollo 9 from KSC LC-39A.

MARCH 04, 1923: Birth of Sir Patrick Moore.

MARCH 04 (Wed) – Closest conjunction of 2015 occurs at 18:00 UTC (13:00 EST). Venus will be within 0.1 degrees of Uranus. Problem is it will only be visible in telescopes as Uranus isn’t naked eye visible and the bright Venus will surely wash it out. Also if you notice the times this is pretty much an Eastern Europe and Asian event.

MARCH 05 (Thu) – Apogee Moon occurs at 07:36 UTC (02:36 EST) where the Moon is at its furthest point from Earth in its current orbit and will be subtending at 29’ arc minutes from a distance of 406,385 km (252,516 mi).

MARCH 05 (Thu) – The Full Moon will occur at 18:06 UTC (13:06 EST). (Name information provided by The Farmer’s Almanac). Full Worm Moon – March As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, and was considered to be the last full Moon of winter.

This Full Moon is also the 2015 “Mini-Moon” as apogee fell earlier in the day it will be the Full Moon furthest from Earth all year.

MARCH 06, 1927: Birth of Gordon Cooper.

MARCH 06, 1937: Birth of Valentina Tereshkova (1st woman in space).

MARCH 06, 1989: X15 solar flare knocks out power to Canadian power grids.

MARCH 07 (Sat) My single favorite phase of the Moon occurs around 95 % illumination just after full phase. I call it the “Full Crater Chain” and it’s when the terminator runs right through Mare Crisium. The chain runs up through Cleomedes, Burckhardt, Geminus, Messala, Endymion and even more impressively below Crisium through Langrenus, Vendelinus, Petavius and Furnerius. If you catch it just right you can enjoy a secondary treat as Petavius’s central peak becomes illuminated and shines alone in the darkness of the crater itself.

MARCH 07 (Sat) – The Moon reaches Ascending Node at 21:04 UTC (16:04 EST).

MARCH 08 (Sun) – SPRING FORWARD! Daylight Savings Time begins at 02:00. So at 01:59:59 EST on Sunday morning we jump straight to 03:00 EDT. Also time designations will now be Daylight Time. For example; eastern-time will switch from EST to EDT and we (east coast) will only be behind UTC by 4 hours vs. the 5 hours we were at all winter.

MARCH 08, 2004: Rover Spirit captures 1st image of Earth from the surface of another planet.

MARCH 09, 1934: Birth of Yuri Gagarin.

MARCH 09, 2011: Final wheel stop for OV-103 Discovery after landing.

MARCH 11 (Wed) – Mars is within 0.5 degrees of Uranus.

MARCH 12 (Thu) – Sunset on the lunar scarp; Rupes Recta or the “Straight Wall” is visible about the day of or day after last quarter (about 45-50% illuminated) the setting Sun causes it to look white as it illuminates the slope. Two weeks later, during lunar sunrise after first quarter it will appear black.

MARCH 12 (Thu) – Pico Mons Sunset. The day of or day after last quarter (around 50% illuminated) the setting Sun hits Pico Mons in Mare Imbrium, near Crater Plato and casts a long shadow along the lunar plains.

MARCH 12 (Thu) – The brilliant Walther Sunset Ray will occur around 23:29 UTC (19:29 EDT). Located in the ancient 145 kilometer (90 mile) Necterian age crater named Walther (Formerly Walter or Valtherus) is a special treat that occurs monthly for a matter of a few hours when illumination is around 44%. On the western rim of the crater there’s a notch and when the Sun is setting low on the lunar horizon (When the crater is near the terminator) light penetrates the notch, creating a vast triangle or “V” shaped light ray across the craters floor that ends as it illuminates the central peak of the crater. Walther Crater a heavily eroded crater located in the Lunar Southern Highlands at the Selenographic Coordinates (Definition below) of Latitude: 33.1°S / Longitude: 1.0°E. It’s named after German astronomer Bernhard Walther. This crater also has a sunrise ray that instead of a light ray is a long shadow cast by the central peak.

MARCH 12, 1923: Birth of Wally Shirra.

MARCH 13 (Fri) – Last Quarter (3rd Quarter) Moon occurs this month at 17:49 UTC (13:49 EDT).

MARCH 13, 1781: Sir William Herschel discovers Uranus.

MARCH 14 (Sat) – The central peak of Copernicus crater will be illuminated out of the darkness of the crater walls around 17:00 UTC (13:00 EDT). This typically occurs around 30-35 % illumination in the waning crescent phase after last quarter. Get the timing just right you can catch the peak as two points of light.

MARCH 14 (Sat) – The CURTISS CROSS, is a creation of shadows throughout craters Gambart and Parry which create an “X” shaped formation and will occur around 06:02 UTC (02:02 EDT). The Curtiss Cross is associated with the third (last) quarter Moon and forms about 14 hours past the third quarter mark.

MARCH 14 (Sat) – 26 (Thu) As of Saturday the 14th we are on the verge of March’s new moon (Lunation 1141), this week presents nights that are the absolute BEST nights to get out and observe Deep Sky Objects (DSOs) because you won’t have to look through the spotlight that is the Moon. Night skies without the Moon are significantly more productive for viewing and photography ANY night sky object (besides the Moon itself of course). For the lucky ones, this week offers the amazing spectacle of the extreme crescent moon, both waning in the east & waxing in the west.

MARCH 14 (Sat) – The Moon is at its Greatest Southern Declination of -18.15 degrees.

MARCH 14, 1879: Birth of Albert Einstein.

MARCH 14: Pi Day: 3/14/15 9:26:53 am.

MARCH 14, 1928: Birth of Frank Borman.

MARCH 14, 1934: Birth of Gene Cernan.

MARCH 15, 1932: Birth of Alan Bean.

MARCH 16, 1750: Birth of Caroline Herschel.

MARCH 16, 1966: Launch of Gemini 8 (Armstrong/Scott).

MARCH 16, 1926: Robert Goddard launches 1st liquid fueled rocket “Nell” from Aunt Effie’s Farm in Auburn MA.

MARCH 17, 1958: Launch of Vanguard 1. 1st solar powered satellite and oldest satellite still on orbit.

MARCH 18, 1965: 1st Spacewalk Alexey Leonov (50 years).

MARCH 18, 2011: Mercury Messenger becomes 1st to orbit Mercury.

MARCH 19 (Thu) – Perigee Moon occurs at 19:39 UTC (15:39 EDT) and is when the Moon is at its closest point to Earth in its orbit. It will be subtending at 33’arc minutes from a distance of 357,583 km (222,192 mi).

MARCH 19, 2008: Gamma Ray Burst GRB 080319B becomes most distant naked eye object in history (7.5 billion light years).

MARCH 20 (Fri) – New Moon (LUNATION 1141) occurs at 09:38 UTC (05:38 EDT). This new moon is also the 3rd of 6 super moons in 2015. Confused as to what a supermoon is? Check it out:

MARCH 20 (Fri) – TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE occurs over the arctic which means very few will fall into the path of totality. The UK, northern Europe and northern Russia will witness a partial. More info:

MARCH 20 (Fri) – Vernal Equinox! Astronomical Spring begins!

MARCH 21 (Sat) – The Moon reaches Descending Node at 02:19 UTC (22:19 EDT on the 20th).

MARCH 21 (Sat) – Mars gets within 2 degrees of the waxing crescent Moon after sunset for the northern hemisphere. It will actually occult Mars for observers in South America.

MARCH 22 (Sun) – Venus gets to within 2.7 degrees of the crescent Moon.

MARCH 23, 1912: Birth of Dr. Wernher von Braun.

MARCH 23, 1965: Launch of “Molly Brown” or Gemini 3 (Grissom/Young).

MARCH 23, 2001: Fiery destruction of MIR.

MARCH 24 (Tue) – Moon rolls through the Hyades and gets to within 0.9 degrees of red supergiant Aldebaran. The Moon will occult Aldebaran for observers in North West America.

MARCH 25, 1928: Birth of Jim Lovell.

MARCH 26 (Thu) – The Moon reaches its Greatest Northern Declination of +18.14 degrees.

MARCH 26, 1940: John Draper captures 1st image of the Moon…..ever.

MARCH 27 (Fri) – First Quarter Moon is the Moon watchers paradise. Occurring at 07:43 UTC (03:43 EDT), First Quarter Moons and the waxing crescent phase leading up to it offer some of the most visually stunning views the Moon has to offer. Most of us will take the beautiful curves, valleys and shadows of a 1st Quarter Moon over a Full Moon ANY day.

MARCH 27 (Fri) – LUNAR-X also known as the PURBACH or WERNER CROSS is scheduled to begin forming the “X” around 17:02 UTC (20:03 EDT). The Lunar-X is the big, more prominent brother to the Curtiss Cross. This “X” is created by shadowing throughout the rims and ridges of craters LaCaille, Blanchinus and Purbach. The “X” formations occur along the terminator (where “day” meets “night” across the Moon). It typically begins just after first quarter when the Moon is approximately 53% illuminated.
MARCH 28 (Sat) – Sunrise on the lunar scarp; Rupes Recta or the “Straight Wall” is visible the night of or the night after first quarter (around 60% illuminated) the rising Sun causes it to look black as its shadow is cast. Two weeks later, during lunar sunset it will appear white.

MARCH 28 (Sat) – Pico Mons Sunrise occurs the night of or the night after first quarter (around 62% illuminated) the rising Sun hits Pico Mons in Mare Imbrium, near Crater Plato and casts a long shadow along the lunar plains.

MARCH 28 (Sat) – MAGINUS SUNRISE RAY will occur around 13:07 UTC (09:07 EDT). At the right times and as the Sun rises over the Crater Maginus (Near the terminator) a beautiful sun ray shines through a break in the craters eastern wall. The result is a vast triangle or “V” formation of light cast upon the crater floor for a period of a few hours. Maginus Crater (Named after Italian astronomer Giovanni Antonio Magini) is a pre-Nectarian impact crater located in the southern lunar highlands and to the south east of Tycho Crater. It’s 110 miles (177km.) and has been extremely eroded by subsequent impacts on or near the site through the millennia. Its selenographic coordinates (Definition below) are Latitude: 50.5°S / Longitude: 6.3°W.

MARCH 28 (Sat) – Earth Hour at 20:30.

MARCH 29, 1807: Discovery of Asteroid 4 Vesta by Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers.

MARCH 31 (Tue) – Leaving the month the Moon is 11 days old in its 29.53 day Synodic Cycle and 87% illuminated in its waxing gibbous phase.

***Definition of LIBRATION (basically) – Is an oscillation of an orbiting body relative to another. OK, so…We know the Earth/Moon system is tidally locked so we always see the same side of the moon. Due to libration, we ACTUALLY see about 60% of the Moon instead of what you may intuitively think of as a 50% measurement. That’s because the Moon oscillates slightly as it rotates and orbits Earth. So, on occasion and with a keen eye we can see a little further “around the corner” north, south, east and west on the moon by a couple degrees.

***SUBTENDING Explained – Definition: The angle formed by an object at a given external point. The moon subtends an angle of approximately 0.54° (32 arc minutes) to an observer on the Earth. Of course, the moon’s orbit is not constant or exactly circular, so this varies a little, but not by very much. If you hold up your thumb at arm’s length, you can easily cover the full moon. This means your thumb subtends a larger angle to your eye at arm’s length than the moon does at 380,000 kilometers. In general, the closer you are to a particular object the larger that subtending angle.

***SELENOGRAPHIC COORDINATES Defined – Selenographic coordinates are used to refer to locations on the surface of Earth’s Moon. Any position on the lunar surface can be referenced by specifying two numerical values, which are comparable to the latitude and longitude of Earth. The longitude gives the position east or west of the Moon’s prime meridian, which is the line of longitude passing through the point on the lunar surface directly facing Earth. (See also Earth’s prime meridian.) This can be thought of as the midpoint of the visible Moon as seen from the Earth. The latitude gives the position north or south of the lunar equator. Both of these coordinates are given in terms of degrees. Astronomers defined the fundamental location in the selenographic coordinate system by the small, bowl-shaped satellite crater ‘Mösting A’. The coordinates of this crater are defined as: Latitude: 3° 12′ 43.2″ South / Longitude: 5° 12′ 39.6″ West. The coordinate system has become precisely defined due to the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment. Anything past 90°E or 90°W would not be seen from Earth, except for libration, which makes 59% of the Moon visible.

NASA | Moon Phase & Libration Northern Hemisphere 2015:

NASA | Moon Phase & Libration Southern Hemisphere 2015:

2015 Moon phases with TIMES:

2015 Moon phase & illumination calendar:

2015 Perigee & Apogee DATES, TIMES & DISTANCES as well as Full & New Moon dates & times (John Walker’s Fourmilab):

2015 Perigee & Apogee:

Lunar Ray predictions:

Farmer’s Almanac Full Moon Names:


Greatest NORTHERN & SOUTHERN Declinations of the Moon (Richard Nolle’s Astro Pro):

FULL YEAR of Lunar Cycles: Previous and Future years as well:

Full & New Moon Calendar:

Sun/Moon Rise & Set times:

Sun/Moon Rise & Set times for the DAY:

Sun/Moon Rise & Set times for the YEAR:

BLUE MOON Calendar:

SUPERMOON Calendar (Richard Nolle’s Astro Pro):

Moon Phases for ANY date:


Moon right NOW:

Moon right NOW:

Moon right NOW:

NASA JPL Ephemeris Calculator:

Lunar Ephemeris Calculator:


Sunrise & Sunset CHART:

Kilometers (km) to miles (mi.) converter:

2015 Astronomical Events:

Occult Software:

Greatest Elongations of Mercury & Venus:

Steve Preston’s Asteroid Occultations:

US Naval Observatory Celestial Phenomena for 2015:

Seiichi Yoshida’s Weekly bright Comets:

International Meteor Organizations 2015 Information:

Satellite Tracking:

NASA Eclipses:

S&T Jupiter 2015 Observation Almanac:

S&T Galilean Moon Mutual Events:

S&T Jupiter Moon Events 2015:

Northern Virginia Astronomy Club: Jupiter Moon Events for 2015:

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3 Responses to Space Junk: March 2015

  1. stevend says:

    I like the suggestion of viewing the terminator through Mare Crisium, but did you not mean the 7th (after full phase) ?

    • AstroDan77 says:

      Darn it, I sure did. Pretty hard to have a post-full event before it’s even full I suppose hah. Much appreciated by the way, there’s always a couple errors every month that I just can’t seem to shake.

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