Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March stargazing

I've already seen more stars in one month on South Padre Island than I saw over 30 years in and around Houston. Keep looking up, despite the political bullshit!

Mountain Climbing
The Mars Curiosity rover snapped this picture on Februay 10 as it continued its ascent of the flanks of Mount Sharp, the central peak of Gusev Crater. It is looking downslope, toward the crater's floor. The rover's observations have shown that this region of Mars was much warmer and wetter in the distant past. [NASA/JPL/MSSS]

Stargazing Summary
Leo takes its rightful place as the lord of the skies on March nights. The lion is in good view in the east as darkness falls, and springs high across the sky during the night. The bright planet Jupiter trails far behind it, near Spica, the brightest star of Virgo. And the even brighter planet Venus changes addresses during the month. It is the brilliant Evening Star as the month begins, but switches to the morning sky by month's end.

More stargazing information

Radio Program Highlights
If you want to start hearing the StarDate program in your area, you can request a station to carry our program by emailing the request to

March 1-5: Spiders and spots. Giant spiders lurk on our closest neighboring planet, and we'll have details. We'll also talk about dark spots on the surface of a neighboring star. Join us for spiders, starspots, and much more.

March 6-12: Making elements. The stars are giant chemical factories. Their nuclear reactors "fuse" together lighter elements to make heavier ones. In fact, they create all but a few of the chemical elements. Join us for the chemistry of the stars and more.

March 13-19: "Active" galaxies. The giant black holes at the hearts of galaxies can make spectacles of themselves. They can pull in surrounding stars and gas, creating hot disks that are some of the brightest objects in the universe. Join us for active galaxies and more.

March 20-26: New missions. NASA recently approved two new missions to explore asteroids, and it's also planning for the next generation of big space telescopes, and we'll have details. Join us for new missions, plus a moving day for a bright planet and more.

March 27-April 2: Moon meanderings. The Moon passes by some bright lights in the evening sky this week, including two planets and two orange stars. Join us for these beautiful encounters, plus the potential for life on a cold world and more.

Program schedule »

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This Month in StarDate Magazine
In our March/April issue, we'll explain how studying sand dunes can teach us about winds and geology on Mars and Titan. We'll also bring you up to date on a new X-ray telescope soon to be launched to the International Space Station.

Subscribe today

News from the Observatory
Probing How the Early Universe Lit Up
Astronomers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a new technique to discover the faintest galaxies yet seen in the early universe —10 times fainter than any previously seen. These galaxies will help astronomers probe a little-understood, but important period in cosmic history. Their new technique helps probe the time a billion years after the Big Bang, when the early, dark universe was flooded with light from the first galaxies.

About SkyTips
SkyTips is a monthly email newsletter for visitors to McDonald Observatory and StarDate Online. Each issue features stargazing highlights, upcoming StarDate radio program descriptions, and other news. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends and family.

SkyTips is a publication of the University of Texas McDonald Observatory Education and Outreach Office, 2515 Speedway C1402, Austin, TX 78712. Reproduction of SkyTips content is permitted with proper credit given to McDonald Observatory.

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