Pleiades

What's up this March?

Each month I will highlight a few easy things for you to spot in the night sky. These will be visible with the naked eye.

A Beautiful Star Cluster.

In March I focus on the star cluster Pleaides, also known as The Seven Sisters and catalogued as Messier 45 (M45). This is easily visible throughout the month as a fuzzy triangular blob of stars.

Pleaides comprises a collection of young stars which were born together and are now travelling through space in a lose cluster. This type of group is known as an ‘Open Cluster’. Eventually they will disperse as they grow older. These stars are only tens of millions of years old which makes them very young. Contrast this with our own star the Sun, which is at least 4 billion years old.

Young stars are hot and often appear blue, although observing colour in space with the naked eye is very difficult.

You can find Pleiades as it is well placed in the northern hemisphere sky throughout March

Pleiades

As an example -this is the position of Pleaides at 20:00 on the 15th March. (Courtesy of Stellarium)

(Remember- astronomer use ‘averted vision’ to see faint objects. Look where you think the object lies and then instead look slightly to the side of the object – you will then have a much improved view.)

Pleiades
Above is my image of M45. This shows how these young hot stars are heating up the surrounding interstellar dust. (This is image is available in the Galaxy on Glass Collection)

Planets in March

Venus continues to be a beautiful bright object throughout March. It is best seen in the evening twilight looking West. At the end of the month it will be close to Pleaides – a super combo! -see below:

Pleiades

If you are an early riser then you are in for a treat during March! In the early twilight you will see Saturn, Jupiter and Mars- appearing close together! They are visible low down in the southeast sky.

Pleiades
(Courtesy of Stellarium)

This is the position of the planets on the 15th March at just after 5 in the morning. NOTE: the green object above Saturn is the International Space Station moving across the sky. Another treat!

So don’t forget to set your alarm.

Enjoy the winter sky, see you next month and do view the beautiful images from deep space at www.galaxyonglaass.com

CHRIS BAKER