On the first Saturday of every month we post educational skywatching notes for the homeschool month ahead.
Don’t forget that Daylight Saving Time begins at 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday in March (that’s the 12th this year) in most U.S. jurisdictions. You should set your clocks forward one hour from 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. 🕑 ↻ 🕒
Here’s the monthly northern hemisphere night-sky review for March 2023 from the Hubble Space Telescope’s website — it features March constellations and galaxies:
And here’s another March night-sky review, courtesy of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California — it features March planets, including the dwarf planet Ceres:
One of the easiest astronomical exercises you and your students can do each month is print out your own copy of the current two-page Evening Sky Map and monthly sky calendar available from skymaps.com:
- ➢ Evening Sky Maps – Northern Hemisphere Edition (updated monthly)
Each map includes a constellation chart for the month as well as a schedule of upcoming astronomical events and an astronomical glossary. (Monthly maps for the southern hemisphere and the equatorial regions are also available.) Give a copy to your students and ask them to study it and report back to you on three notable things you can watch for this month. (And as they report to you, ask them questions about what they’re telling you.) Do that for a few minutes each month, and before you know it you’ll have a team of expert astronomers in your homeschool.
The best stargazing nights in March will be toward the end of the month: the moon will be new (and the sky darkest) on the 21st. As always, you can look up the moon’s phases in your River Houses almanac and also on the timeanddate.com website. 🌑 🌓 🌕 🌗 🌑
March is the first month of Leo Term, our spring term in the River Houses. Our Great Star for the month of March is brilliant Sirius (alpha Canis Majoris), the brightest star in the night sky, which we’ll be writing about next week. Print your own River Houses Star Calendar and follow along with us through the year as we learn about twelve of the high lights of the northern hemisphere night sky. 🌟
March is also the month of the vernal (spring) equinox in the northern hemisphere — the astronomical beginning of spring — which falls this year on Monday the 20th. (In the southern hemisphere the 20th will be the autumnal equinox — the astronomical beginning of fall.) On the day of the equinox we experience almost exactly twelve hours of light and twelve hours of darkness: “equal light and night.” 🌞 🌚
What celestial sights and aerial apparitions will you and your young astronomers be examining during this homeschool March? 🔭
❡ All the star-sown sky: Teaching your students to recognize the constellations is one of the simplest and most enduring gifts you can give them. Our recommended backyard star guide and homeschool world atlas both contain charts of the constellations that will help you learn your way around the heavens. Find a dark-sky spot near you this month and spend some quality homeschool time with your students beneath the starry vault. ✨
❡ The starry archipelagoes: For a great weekly astronomical essay, perfect for older homeschoolers, pay a visit to “The Sky This Week” from the U.S. Naval Observatory. These well-written pages, posted each Tuesday, usually focus on one or two special astronomical events or phenomena. If you have high school science students, have them read these pages aloud to you each week, or ask them to study them and narrate a summary back to you. 🌌
❡ The majestic clockwork: Where are the planets right now? Not as we see them in the sky, but rather where are they in their orbits around the sun? Find out at The Planets Today. 🪐
❡ Make friendship with the stars: This is one of our regular Homeschool Astronomy posts. Add your name to our free River Houses mailing list and get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox every week. 🗞
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