The Astronomical Events of March 2024

As spring awakens in the Northern Hemisphere, explore the unique celestial marvels in this transformative period.

As the biting winter cold recedes and gives way to the mild weather of spring, March stands as an inviting gateway for outdoor enthusiasts, particularly for those with their eyes cast skyward. March 2024 is shaping up to be an extraordinary month for stargazers, bringing a whole host of celestial wonders into sharper focus.

From the ethereal glow of the Zodiacal Light to the challenging spectacle of the Messier Marathon, the night sky will be teeming with stunning phenomena. With the spring equinox offering balanced daylight and darkness, and an array of galaxies, constellations, and planets parading across the sky, March is poised to be a celestial extravaganza.

Please note this skywatching guide is for the northern hemisphere. If you live in the south, I recommend this guide: Guide to the Night Sky Southern Hemisphere (aff link)

March 03 at 02:16 CST – Antares 0.4°S of Moon

Antares, one of the brightest stars in the sky, will be seen close to the Moon. A great opportunity for stargazers and photographers to capture Antares and the Moon together in the sky.

March 03 at 09:24 CST – LAST QUARTER MOON

It’s the Last Quarter Moon, a great time to observe lunar features like craters and mountains using a telescope, as the shadows during this phase provide great contrast.

March 07 at 22:59 CST – Mars 3.5°N of Moon

Mars will appear close to the Moon. This close approach can make it easier to find the Red Planet in the night sky.

March 08 at 11:01 CST – Venus 3.3°N of Moon

Venus, the brightest planet in our night sky, will be visible near the Moon. Look for a bright “star” near the Moon, that’s Venus!

March 10 at 01:06 CST – Moon at Perigee: 356895 km

The Moon will be at perigee, the closest point to Earth in its orbit. This can result in a slightly larger appearance of the Moon in the sky, a good time for lunar photography.

March 10 at 03:00 CST – NEW MOON

It’s New Moon, where the Moon is not visible from Earth. This is the best time to observe galaxies and clusters, as the sky is darker due to the absence of moonlight.

March 11 at 19:18 CST – Moon at Ascending Node

The Moon will reach its ascending node. For casual observation, there will be little to see, but for astronomers, this is significant for predicting eclipses and tracking the Moon’s orbit.

March 13 at 19:02 CST – Jupiter 3.6°S of Moon

Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, will appear near the Moon. This is a good chance to see Jupiter and its four largest moons using a telescope.

March 14 at 20:54 CST – Pleiades 0.4°N of Moon

The Pleiades star cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters, will be visible near the Moon. This can provide a beautiful visual spectacle with binoculars or a small telescope.

March 16 at 22:11 CST – FIRST QUARTER MOON

It’s the First Quarter Moon. This phase provides excellent viewing conditions for the Moon’s surface, especially along the terminator, the boundary between light and dark.

March 17 at 05:00 CST – Neptune in Conjunction with Sun

Neptune will be in conjunction with the Sun and not visible from Earth. It’s a good reminder of the movements of planets in our Solar System.

March 17 at 11:00 CST – Mercury at Perihelion

Mercury reaches perihelion, its closest point to the Sun. Although not directly observable, it’s an interesting fact to consider as part of the Solar System’s intricate dance.

March 19 at 00:44 CST – Pollux 1.5°N of Moon

Pollux, a bright star, will be visible close to the Moon. It’s one of the twin stars of the Gemini constellation and a treat for stargazers.

March 19 at 11:00 CST – Venus at Aphelion

Venus reaches its furthest point from the Sun. Despite this, Venus will still be the brightest object in the night sky (other than the Moon), reflecting its nickname as the “Evening Star”.

March 19 at 21:07 CST – Vernal Equinox

The Vernal Equinox marks the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. From this point onwards, days will start getting longer than nights, bringing more time for evening sky observations!

March 21 at 16:00 CST – Venus 0.3°N of Saturn

Venus and Saturn will appear very close in the sky. This conjunction provides a unique opportunity to see two very different planets in the same field of view of a telescope.

March 21 at 22:46 CST – Regulus 3.6°S of Moon

Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo, will be visible close to the Moon. This pairing can be a striking sight.

March 23 at 09:44 CST – Moon at Apogee: 406292 km

The Moon reaches apogee, its furthest point from Earth. It’s a reminder of the Moon’s elliptical orbit, appearing slightly smaller in the sky at this time.

March 24 at 16:00 CST – Mercury at Greatest Elong: 18.7°E

Mercury will be well placed for viewing in the evening sky. A challenging planet to spot, this is one of the best opportunities to catch a glimpse of Mercury.

March 25 at 01:00 CST – FULL MOON

The Full Moon, a beautiful spectacle and a bright companion for the night. It’s the best time to enjoy the Moon’s full glory, but not the best for observing other celestial objects due to the bright sky.

March 25 at 01:13 CST – Pen. Lunar Eclipse; mag=0.956

A subtle penumbral lunar eclipse will occur, where the Moon passes through the faint outer edge of Earth’s shadow. This can lead to a slight darkening of the Moon, especially noticeable through telescopes.

March 25 at 22:07 CST – Moon at Descending Node

The Moon reaches its descending node. This, like the ascending node, is an important point in the Moon’s orbit for predicting eclipses and orbital changes.

March 26 at 13:40 CST – Spica 1.4°S of Moon

Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo, will be visible close to the Moon. Their close proximity can make for a beautiful sight in the night sky.

March 30 at 08:24 CST – Antares 0.3°S of Moon

Antares will be seen close to the Moon again. If you missed the opportunity on March 3rd, here’s another chance to see this bright star in a lovely pairing with our Moon.

Note: Some astronomical events in this list were sourced from Sky Event Almanacs – Courtesy of Fred Espenak at

Admiring the Zodiacal Light

March is considered one of the best months to observe the Zodiacal Light from the Northern Hemisphere. The Zodiacal Light is a faint, roughly triangular, diffuse white glow seen in the night sky that appears to extend from the vicinity of the Sun along the ecliptic or zodiac. It is caused by sunlight scattering from interplanetary dust in the Solar System.

Attempting the Messier Marathon

March is typically the month when amateur astronomers attempt the Messier Marathon, an attempt to observe all 110 objects listed in the Messier Catalog in one night. This feat is possible because, in late March, the positions of the Earth and the Messier objects align so that they are all above the horizon during a single night.

March Moon Phases

Here’s the chronology of the major lunar phases for the month:

Additionally, you may use my moon calculator to find out the phase for any day. 

My recommended surface feature to observe this March

  1. Craters: The Moon’s surface is covered in craters, remnants of ancient meteor impacts. This month, try to find the Clavius and Aristarchus Craters
  2. Maria: These are the large, dark, basaltic plains on the Moon, formed by ancient volcanic eruptions. This month, try to find Mare Imbrium (Sea of Showers) and Mare Nectaris (Sea of Nectar).
  3. Mountain Ranges: Lunar mountains, such as the Apennine Mountains, provide a rugged contrast to the Maria. They can be quite a sight, especially when the light casts long shadows over them during the First and Last Quarter phases. This month, try to find Montes Caucasus (Caucasus Mountains) and Montes Taurus (Taurus Mountains).

Planetary Highlights

Venus, Mars, Saturn and Neptune are unfortunately way too close to the Sun this month and are therefore not observable.

Jupiter is for the third month in a row the best sight in the evening this year, despite setting rather early (before midnight). The King of the solar system has a lovely conjunction with the Moon on the 13th.

Uranus is still following Jupiter very closely in the sky, setting about an hour after the gas giant.

Staring on the 13th and until the 27th, Mercury stands out in the twilight sky, with an apparent magnitude of -1.2. The first planet of the solar system reaches its greatest elongation (east) on the 24th. 

Constellations best seen in March

Among the 88 modern constellations in our night sky, here are the eight that are most clearly visible this month.

Cancer – The Crab (Cnc)

  • Hemisphere: Northern
  • Size: 506 square degrees of the sky.
  • Visible between latitudes: 90 and -60 degrees
  • RA/DEC: 8 hours and 45 minutes / 20 degrees
  • Asterism: 7 stars
  • Constellation Family: Zodiac
cancer constellation

Canis Minor – The Little Dog (CMi)

  • Hemisphere: Northern
  • Size: 183 square degrees of the sky.
  • Visible between latitudes: 85 and -75 degrees
  • RA/DEC: 8 hours / 5° north
  • Asterism: 2 stars
  • Constellation Family: Orion
canis minor constellation

Carina – The Keel (Car)

  • Hemisphere: Southern
  • Size: 494 square degrees of the sky.
  • Visible between latitudes: 20 and -90 degrees
  • RA/DEC: 9h / -60 degrees
  • Asterism: 9 stars
  • Constellation Family: Heavenly Waters
Carina constellation

Lynx – The Lynx (Lyn)

  • Hemisphere: Northern
  • Size: 545 square degrees of the sky.
  • Visible between latitudes: 90 and -35 degrees
  • RA/DEC: 8h / +45 degrees
  • Asterism: 4 stars
  • Constellation Family: Ursa Major
Lynx constellation

Puppis – The Stern (Pup)

  • Hemisphere: Southern
  • Size: 673 square degrees of the sky.
  • Visible between latitudes: 40 and -90 degrees
  • RA/DEC: 7.5 hours / -30 degrees
  • Asterism: 10 stars
  • Constellation Family: Heavenly Water
puppis constellation

Pyxis – The Compass (Pyx)

  • Hemisphere: Southern
  • Size: 221 square degrees of the sky.
  • Visible between latitudes: 50 and -90 degrees
  • RA/DEC: 9 hours / -30 degrees
  • Asterism: 3 stars
  • Constellation Family: Heavenly Waters
Lepus constellation

Vela – The Sails (Vel)

  • Hemisphere: Southern
  • Size: 500 square degrees of the sky.
  • Visible between latitudes: 30 and -90 degrees
  • RA/DEC: 9 hours / Declination: -50 degrees
  • Asterism: 5 stars
  • Constellation Family: Heavenly Water
vela constellation

Volans – The Flying Fish (Vol)

  • Hemisphere: Southern
  • Size: 141 square degrees of the sky.
  • Visible between latitudes: 10 and -90 degrees
  • RA/DEC: 8 hours / -70 degrees
  • Asterism: 6 stars
  • Constellation Family: Bayer
volans constellation

Deep Sky Objects best seen in March

Most deep-sky objects will require you to use equipment such as telescopes or astronomical binoculars. Most notable DSOs have been recorded during the last centuries in various catalogs such as the Messier catalog.

Various celestial entities like galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters make up deep-sky objects. Here are three such objects that offer an optimal viewing experience in March.

M101 – The Pinwheel Galaxy

The Pinwheel Galaxy, also known as Messier 101 (M101), is a face-on spiral galaxy located about 21 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. It has an apparent diameter that is about half the size of the full moon and a physical diameter of about 170,000 light-years. 

  • Apparent magnitude: 7.9
  • Angular diameter: 28′.8 × 26′.9
  • RA/DEC: 14h 03.2m / +54° 21´ 
  • Constellation: Ursa Major

M63 – The Sunflower Galaxy

The Sunflower Galaxy, Messier 63 (M63), is a spiral galaxy situated in the northern constellation of Canes Venatici. It’s approximately 27 million light-years away from Earth. Known for its bright yellowish core and striking spiral arms that resemble the pattern of sunflower seeds.

  • Apparent magnitude: 9.3
  • Angular diameter: 10×6 arc-minutes
  • RA/DEC: 13h 15m 49s / +42d 01m 50s
  • Constellation: Canes Venatici

The Leo Triplet

The Leo Triplet, also known as the M66 Group, is a small group of galaxies about 35 million light-years away in the constellation Leo. 

  • Apparent magnitude: 9.1
  • RA/DEC: 11h 17m / +13° 25′
  • Constellation: Leo

Comets best seen in March

Here’s a list of notable comets you should be able to spot this month:


  • Constellation: Gemini
  • Magnitude: 12.24
  • Distance: 1.02 AU
  • RA/Dec: 06h34m 22s / +17° 30′ 46″
  • Visibility: Visible until about 2.30 am

12P/Pons- Brooks

  • Constellation: Pisces
  • Magnitude: 6.3
  • Distance: 1.64 AU
  • RA/Dec: 00 49m 49s / +31° 39′ 27″
  • Visibility: 7pm till 10.30 pm

62P/Tsuchinshan 1

  • Constellation: Virgo
  • Magnitude: 12.14
  • Distance: 0.62 AU
  • RA/Dec: 12h 21m 15s / +10° 15′ 34.2″
  • Visibility: all night

C/2021 S3 (PanSTARRS)

  • Constellation: Aquila
  • Magnitude: 10.58
  • Distance: 1.30 AU
  • RA/Dec: 19h 02m 27s / 11° 13′ 01″
  • Visibility: after midnight

Featured star of the month: Rigil Kentaurus (Alpha Centauri)

Every month, we’ll spotlight one of the brightest stars in the night sky. These celestial spotlights won’t require any specialized equipment – all you’ll need are your eyes, clear skies, and a bit of curiosity.

Rigil Kentaurus (Alpha Centauri)

  • Constellation: Centaurus
  • Apparent Magnitude: -0.27
  • Absolute Magnitude: +4.34
  • Distance: 4.367 light-years
  • Celestial Coordinates: RA 14h 39m 36.494s | Dec −60° 50′ 02.3737″

How to find this star: Unfortunately, Alpha Centauri’s constellation, Centaurus, is also located in the southern hemisphere so the northern hemisphere’s viewers might only get to see it if they travel to the southernmost part of their areas. However, it never rises beyond 29 degrees in the north, so anyone beyond that might not be able to see it. 

For those in the north, locating Southern Cross is the first step, after which they can move eastward from Delta and Beta Crucis and then from Hadar to Alpha Centauri. Those in the southern hemisphere will see Alpha Centauri as a circumpolar star, so they don’t have to worry about missing it.

Rigil Kentaurus is the brightest star of a triple star system consisting of Rigil Kentaurus (Alpha Centauri), Toliman, and Proxima Centauri. Without the aid of a telescope, we actually see two stars, Alpha Centauri and Toliman together.

Alpha Centauri is a triple star system located in Centaurus. Image Credit: Stellarium

Spotting the ISS in the night sky

The station completes one full orbit around the Earth in 90 minutes (16 times in 24 hours), which means you could potentially see the station several times within a few hours period, provided you are on the night side of the planet and know where to look.

This nifty little widget created by NASA allows you to input the city you live in. It will then calculate and display the next ISS fly over time. You can find out how long the station will be visible and its position when it appears and disappears from the sky.

The International Space Station is fairly easy to locate in the sky. It is brighter than any other satellite in the sky and can sometimes reach an apparent magnitude similar to that of planet Venus. You can also sign up to receive alerts (via email or text) on this page.

Solar / Lunar eclipses

There are no eclipses of any kind happening this month. Check out our eclipse calendar for this year.

Meteor Shower of the month

There are no significant meteor showers this month, the next major shower should take place in April (Lyrid Meteor Shower).

General Stargazing Tips

  • Plan ahead: Choose a few specific objects you’d like to observe and research where to find them in the night sky. Download a stargazing app or print out star maps to use as a reference.
  • Wait for darkness: Stargazing is best done when it’s completely dark outside, so aim for a time at least an hour after sunset. This will allow you to see more of the stars and planets in the sky.
  • Find a good spot: Look for an area with little light pollution and a clear view of the horizon. Avoid areas with tall buildings or trees that could obstruct your view.
  • Make sure to know the rules for public areas as you may need a permit, to purchase a campsite, etc. Think about who is coming and what you may need/ want such as bathroom access, electricity, distance from the car, etc.
  • Be sure to check the moon phase for that day before you go: A bright full moon can wash out fainter stars and planets and make your night of stargazing difficult.
  • Always plan backup dates: We cannot control or completely predict the weather. It’s one of the frustrating realities of stargazing: cancellations due to weather are common.
  • Set up your equipment: If you’re using a telescope, set it up and let it adjust to the outside temperature for at least 30 minutes.
  • Make sure your tripod is as steady as possible. Even the slightest wobble can cause stars to appear blurred.
  • Bring eyepieces of various focal lengths: Different objects in the night sky are best viewed at different magnifications, so bring a variety of eyepieces for your telescope.
  • Dress warmly: Stargazing can be a cold activity, especially in the winter, so be sure to dress in layers and bring a blanket or warm coat to keep yourself comfortable.
  • Most importantly, enjoy! Let your eyes soak in the beauty of our night sky!

Safety tips when stargazing in nature

I have been stargazing for more than a decade and I understand that the night sky can be inviting and mysterious, but please take safety precautions when spending long hours in the dark. I have enjoyed stargazing sessions from my own backyard as well as remote and dark places.

Therefore, I have a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Bring a buddy/group: Even if you’re an experienced stargazer, it’s never a bad idea to bring someone with you. It can help make the night more enjoyable and also provide safety in case something unexpected happens.
  • Dress appropriately: Wear comfortable clothing that will keep you warm in lower temperatures (especially during winter months) but also be aware of bugs or other critters that can be attracted to light sources.
  • Let someone know where you’ll be going: Give a family member, friend or roommate a general idea of where you’re going and when you’ll be back. What I usually do is share my live GPS location with my family so they know where I am and when I’m on the way home.
  • Have the necessary supplies: Bring plenty of water, snacks and torchlights to create a comfortable environment for stargazing. Also, make sure to bring a first-aid kit in case of any emergencies.
  • Be aware of your surroundings: make sure to stay away from any potential dangers such as cliffs, water bodies or cacti.
  • Stay on established trails or roads: Avoid wandering off into the wilderness and bring a whistle and flashing lights so you can be found if you get lost.
  • Being out in the dark can be disorienting, whilst also being a time when nocturnal animals become active. Make sure you know where you are and have an escape plan should something go wrong.
  • Lastly, remember that you are in nature so always leave the place better than how you found it. With proper preparation and safety tips in mind, stargazers of any skill level can enjoy a star-filled night under the NH sky. Happy Stargazing!

Be sure to check out my guide, if you want to know more about safe stargazing practices.

Useful Stargazing applications

The night sky can be a tricky thing to navigate, but luckily there are some amazing astronomy applications for smartphones that make the process a lot simpler. Some go-to free applications for iOS and Android users include:

Stellarium is a powerful, free app with a live interactive 3D view of the night sky. Simply hold your phone in front of you and the real-time sky above you will appear on your screen. It can also be used to quickly locate stars, constellations and galaxies with a tap of the finger.

Download here: Android – iOS

Clear Outside is designed to help you plan your stargazing sessions. It features a clear sky chart that tells you the local weather conditions and times when it is expected to be the clearest at night.

Download here: Android – iOS

My other monthly Stargazing guides for this year

I have curated an astronomical event guide for each month of the year; I highly recommend that you explore them.

Tom Urbain
I’ve been fascinated by space and astronomy from a very young age. When I’m not watching space-themed documentaries, movies or TV series, I spend most of my free time in my backyard admiring the planets and galaxies with my telescope.
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