SXM Backyard Astronomy for March 12-14: Looking up at the Night Sky

SXM Backyard Astronomy for March 12-14: Looking up at the Night Sky

Sun rises at 6:21am

Sun sets at 6:21pm

Lunar phase: New Moon, virtually absent

This weekend, the moon is in quarantine, which is not so unusual; in fact, it’s a monthly occurrence. It’s the yin to the full moon’s yang. The new moon doesn’t get a name like Wolf Moon or Snow Moon. It doesn’t get all the glory. Instead, the new moon allows other celestial beings to shine their brightest. But have no fear, the crescent moon will be seen by Monday, hanging low in the western sky after sunset.

So this weekend, the stage is set for the stars and planets to grab the glittery glory, especially if you can manage to get away from street lights and building lights. Darkness is very helpful when seeking stars. A midnight stroll along the beach, perhaps? If so, then here’s what you should look for, up in the Night Sky.

Many of our finest beaches face a southerly direction, which makes the constellations of the southern sky particularly easy to view. It’s almost like a parade along the stage of the Caribbean Sea. First up: Canis Major the Great Dog with the brightest star of them all, Sirius, marking his heart. Canis Major is up on his hind legs for the parade this weekend. Good boy!

Behind the pup, look for a large constellation which represents a sailing ship. How appropriate to see a celestial ship low on our southern horizon! At the bow of the ship, the bright star Canopus shines out. Vela Carina sets sail around 8:00pm, Saturday.

Behind the ship, we see the famous Southern Cross, or Crux, take the stage. Regaled in poetry, songs, and many national flags, the small constellation is even given a shout out in the St. Maarten Song. After that, a progression of constellations adorns our watery stage: Centaurus, Lupus and, finally, Scorpius skitter across just at the end of the night.

Directly overhead in the evening hours, you will be rewarded for craning your neck back. It’s our beloved Winter Circle, right there above your head like a giant halo! Regular readers are surely not wanting me to go through the whole description of the circle, suffice to say it’s a ring of very bright stars from seven different constellations. Orion, the Hunter Constellation, is easy to spot, so just find that three-star belt and you are on your way!

Still overhead, around midnight Saturday, you will find Leo the Lion. His regal mane forms the shape of a backwards question mark which allows me to say with confidence, that he is facing west and will travel that direction throughout the night, arriving at the earth’s horizon about an hour before sunrise on Sunday.

Thank you for keeping up with the Night Sky articles designed for St. Maarten viewing. If you are out later on in the week, each star rises about four minutes earlier each day than written here, and the moon rises 50 minutes later. Night Sky is researched and compiled by Lisa Davis-Burnett. Earthsky.org is a key resource for information and images. Questions or comments? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.