From 2 Rosemary Lane, March 13th 2017
Welcome to our first newsletter from our new location in Sutton, Cambridgeshire! We plan to send out a news update from The Widescreen Centre once each month, to keep you updated on what’s happening in the sky, new products, special offers - and to notify you of events, both around the UK and our own, here at 2 Rosemary Lane.
Spring is almost upon us. Hopefully the freezing cold nights of winter are behind us now, but the familiar winter constellations are still around for the time being. It’s an excellent time to be outdoors chasing the wonders of the night sky – and this month has much to offer - and so do we!
The Sky – March 2017
Mercury is now pulling away from the Sun to join Venus in the evening sky, but it won’t be clearly visible for another week or so. Full Moon is this Sunday, and Last Quarter Moon is on March 20th, when it passes Saturn in the pre-dawn sky. New Moon is on the 27th, so we will end the month as we began – with a crescent Moon well placed in the western sky at sunset. By this time Venus, now past inferior conjunction on the 25th, will have been replaced by Mercury low in the West at sunset.
Mercury and Venus at sunset on March 20th
Venus dominates the evening sky right now, and is currently at it’s brightest possible – around magnitude -4.6. If you know where to look, you can see it before sunset. But it moves rapidly in towards the Sun and Inferior Conjunction on March 25th. Although it’s brightness will fade during the month, Venus’s angular diameter will swell to just under 1 minute of arc (1/60th of a degree, or about 1/30th the size of the Moon in the sky), with a very slim crescent phase. Those with exceptional eyesight – and exceptional skies – may be able to see the crescent phase with the unaided eye. Can you? Binoculars will certainly show it. Come & see us and try out some of our best-selling binoculars which can also be great for birdwatching and taking on your summer vacation.
Jupiter moves swiftly towards Opposition on April 7th, rising before 9.20pm at the beginning of March, and at 8.03pm by the 31st. A very rewarding sight, even with binoclaurs which will show the dance of the four Galilean satellites, even a small telescope will show detail – in the form of cloud belts – on the surface. More than ten times the diameter of the Earth, Jupiter rotates so fast (once in less then ten hours) that its shape is noticeably flattened at the poles. Colour filters can dramatically enhance detail on Jupiter, the Moon and other planets and need not be expensive (think £29,99 for 4 filters). Talk to us for advice or come along & see for yourself!
The sky at 9pm BST on March 29th - Stargazing LIVE week!
Saturn is not best placed now. It’s well South of the celestial equator, and currently only visible low in the morning sky. It rises around 2am by the end of March, and reaches its greatest elevation – only about 16˚ - at sunrise. But Saturn is always dramatic, and the rings are now about as wide ‘open’ as they can be. The air is at its most calm in the morning sky before dawn. This can be the best time to see Saturn at this low elevation. Opposition will be on June 15th.
Something else to look out for in the second half of the month is the Zodiacal light – a faint glow along the plane of the ecliptic caused by sunlight scattering back from dust particles lying between the planets. The high inclination of the ecliptic in the evening sky makes this the best time of the year to look out for it – but you will need dark skies. Look to the west about an hour after sunset.