Poster’s Note: The text for this month’s installment from Dee Sharples, “The Sky In March 2024,” is provided below. Those wishing to listen to the article can click on the audio link below.

March brings two important dates for people looking forward to spring. March 10 is the beginning of Daylight Savings Time when we set our clocks ahead one hour giving us an extra hour of daylight. Tuesday, March 19, at 11:06 p.m. EDT is the spring equinox, the official first day of spring for the Northern Hemisphere. On this day, the number of hours of daylight and darkness are almost equal with 12h 07m 45s of daylight and 11h 52m 15s of darkness.

But why is it that on March 17, two days earlier, the hours of daylight and darkness are even more equally divided? That moment the hours of daylight and darkness are exactly the same is called the equilux? Information from the website

The equilux is when day and night reach a perfect balance of 12 hours each. Astronomers calculate this by using common definitions of sunrise and sunset—when the first bit of the Sun’s disk appears and when the last bit vanishes. Equilux dates occur a few days before the spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere and a few days after the autumn equinox. So, while the equinox is close to equal, the equilux is the moment when day and night are truly balanced.

The planet Jupiter is nearing the end of its long-running show in our night sky. It will soon be gone as it moves behind the sun, but you can still spot it now shining like a bright star low in the west as darkness falls.

The long awaited total solar eclipse is almost here! The moon will begin to cover the sun at 2:07 p.m. and the eclipse will slowly reach totality at 3:20 p.m. in the southwestern sky. After 3 minutes and 38 seconds of darkness, the opposite edge of the sun will begin to reappear.

Information provided by NASA from their website
Except during the brief total phase of a total solar eclipse, when the Moon completely blocks the Sun’s bright face, it is not safe to look directly at the Sun without specialized eye protection for solar viewing.

When watching the partial phases of the solar eclipse directly with your eyes, which happens before and after totality, you must look through safe solar viewing glasses (“eclipse glasses”). You can also use an indirect viewing method, such as a pinhole projector.

Only totality reveals the true celestial spectacle: the diamond ring, the Sun’s glorious corona, strange colors in our sky, and seeing stars in the daytime. (And don’t forget to listen to your surroundings, too; wildlife tends to react to a total solar eclipse suddenly passing overhead.)

Depending on your surroundings, as totality nears you may experience strange things.

Look: You’ll notice a resemblance to the onset of night, though not exactly. Areas much lighter than the sky you’ll see near the Sun lie all around the horizon. Shadows appear different.

Listen: Usually, any breeze will dissipate and birds (many of whom will return to roost) will stop chirping. It is quiet.

Feel: 10°F to 15°F drop in temperature is not unusual.

2:07 PM: Eclipse begins as the moon begins to cover the sun
3:20 PM: Totality begins and lasts for 3 minutes, 38 seconds
4:33 PM: Eclipse ends

For many people, this will be a once in a lifetime event. Prepare now by getting eclipse glasses for everyone in your observing group and choosing a spot where you‟ll have a clear view of the south-western sky!

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