The beginning of the astronomical spring of 2023 awaits us at the beginning of next week. When is the first day of calendar spring? Spring months will abound in many interesting phenomena that you will be able to admire in the sky. Check what awaits us.
When is the beginning of astronomical spring 2023? In this case, it is determined by the intersection point of two circles defined in astronomical coordinate systems. One is the ecliptic, which is the path of the Sun’s apparent motion across the sky when viewed from Earth. The plane of the ecliptic includes the orbit of the Earth, and the orbits of the other planets of the solar system lie close to it. The second determinant is the celestial equator. Its formal definition may seem complicated, but in simple terms we can imagine it as an extension of w cosmos the earth’s equator.
When does astronomical spring start?
There are two intersection points of both circles, one called the Aries point and the other the Libra point. When the Sun passes through the point of Aries, astronomical spring begins. In the second case, we have the beginning of astronomical autumn.
Interestingly, the point of Aries is not in the constellation of Aries at all. Since the first century AD, and also today, it is located in the constellation of Pisces. Previously, it was in the constellation of Aries, hence its name. Its movement against the background of the constellations is the result of the precession of the Earth’s axis of rotation, which completes a full circle in 25,800 years. If the boundaries of the constellations do not change (the current ones were defined by the International Astronomical Union nearly a hundred years ago), then in 2597 the point of Aries will be in the constellation of Aquarius.
This year, the exact moment of beginning of the astronomical spring is Monday, March 20 at 22.24. The first day of spring will last 12 hours and 17 minutes.
When is the beginning of calendar spring?
What about calendar spring? This one has a fixed date. Like every year, it starts on March 21. This time it will be Tuesday. It will last until June 21. It is a period of the year established by meteorologists in order to make it easier to compare observations carried out in different places.
Meteorological spring began on March 1.
Spring 2023. What attractions await us in the sky
Venus will be the brightest object in the night sky after the Moon throughout spring. Also in the evening you will be able to see Mercury, for which the best observation conditions will be in mid-April. Mars will also be visible for much of the night.
The planet Jupiter goes from being visible in the evening to being visible in the morning. In the first days of spring, we will see it in the evening very low over the western horizon, quickly setting. After that, it will be too close to the Sun to be seen, and by the end of May it will begin to be visible in the morning low over the eastern horizon. In April this year, the European JUICE probe is planned to be launched, which in a few years is to reach Jupiter and study its moons. Institutes and companies from Poland also participate in the mission.
In turn, the planet Saturn will rise earlier and earlier, initially in the morning, and at the end of spring around midnight.
This is where the planets visible to the naked eye end. Uranus and Neptune can also be seen with telescopes. The first in the evening and the second in the morning.
On Tuesday, March 21, the opposition of the dwarf planet Ceres will occur, and this means good visibility conditions for the object. You need a small telescope to see Ceres. From mid-April, you can start hunting another dwarf planet in the morning: Pluto. However, it is an object accessible to larger amateur telescopes.
Close encounters of objects in the sky, asterisms
The conjunctions of planets with each other, or the Moon with planets, are visually interesting phenomena. At the very beginning of the astronomical spring, close conjunctions of the narrow crescent Moon with the planets await us, first on March 22 with Jupiter, then on March 24 with Venus, and then the more illuminated disc of the Moon with Mars (March 28).
From May 22 to 24, the Moon will pass bright Venus and fainter Mars. Again, this situation will occur from June 21 to 22, in addition, then Venus and Mars will be visible closer to each other.
An interesting phenomenon will be the edge occultation of Jupiter by the Moon, which will occur on May 17. Unfortunately, it will happen during the day.
At the beginning of spring, you can see the constellation of Orion with bright stars arranged in such a way that they resemble the symbolic silhouette of a man, including – with three arranged in a line, constituting the so-called Orion’s belt. Close to Orion is Canis Major with the star Sirius – the brightest star in the night sky. On the opposite side is Taurus with the bright star Aldebaran. Near Orion you can also see Gemini with a pair of bright stars Castor and Pollux.
In the sky we also find the so-called The Spring Triangle. It is not a constellation, but an asterism, i.e. a characteristic arrangement of stars, but not on the list of constellations. For example, the Big Dipper is also an asterism, not a constellation. The Spring Triangle consists of the star Regulus from the constellation Leo, the star Arcturus from Boots, and the star Spika from Virgo.
A fairly easy to recognize constellation is Cassiopeia, whose bright stars form the letter W. Some people can find the Big Dipper, as well as the Little Dipper with the North Star.
Meteor showers, full moons
Among the meteor showers, the Lyrids are active from April 16 to April 25, with a maximum on the night of April 22 to 23. It is not a very abundant meteor shower, but we can see up to 18 fast-moving meteors in an hour. Associated with this swarm is the comet C/1861 G1 (Thatcher), discovered in 1861 and returning every 415 years. The swarm itself was already known to the Chinese in ancient times.
The spring full moon will occur on April 6, May 5 and June 4, while the new moon will occur on May 19 and June 18. In turn, on May 5 there will be a partial lunar eclipse, visible in Poland at moonrise.
On April 20, we will have a hybrid solar eclipse, but this phenomenon will not be visible in Poland. The eclipse belt will pass through the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.
Main photo source: weather