Daylight saving time returns March 10

February 2 marked the exact midpoint between the winter solstice (Dec. 22) and the spring equinox, which arrives on March 19.

At noon on March 19 the sun will appear to rest on the celestial equator, some 50 degrees above the southern horizon. From then until June 21, the sun at noon will appear a little higher in the sky each day as we advance through spring and into summer.

Daylight saving time returns at 2 a.m. local time on March 10 — when clocks “spring” forward to 3 a.m. local daylight time.

Yes, spring is here, and a sure sign of it in our skies is the beautiful zodiac constellation Leo the lion.

Leo is seen midway up in the eastern sky throughout March with its “backward” question head leading the way. This will be quickly followed later in the month by the largest zodiac constellation, Virgo, low in the southeastern sky, and behind Leo, the oddly named warrior Bootes, featuring the very bright reddish-orange star Arcturus.

Mercury, the innermost solar system planet, makes its best evening appearance of 2024 in March.

Mercury always makes brief appearances for sky-watchers because being so close to the sun it never reaches high altitudes above the horizon from our line of sight on Earth. However, a good “window” to see it in March is opened.

Start to look in the western sky for Mercury on March 11, the day after daylight saving time starts. That night, a very thin crescent moon will be just above and left of Mercury, which will be quite close to the horizon.

By March 15, Mercury will be much easier to spot and will be visible for an hour after the sun sets.

On March 24, Mercury will still be visible for about an hour after sunset, and brighter Jupiter will shine above it.

The better times to view Jupiter in March are in the first two weeks. Jupiter appears much lower after that and will be dimmed by twilight.

On March 1, Venus and Mars will be seen in the eastern morning sky before sunrise, dimmer Mars above and right of much brighter Venus. But they will both be low to the horizon and Mars being dimmer will be more difficult to see in brightening dawn. Use binoculars to help.

Look for the crescent moon near Venus on March 7.

With binoculars, looking at Jupiter in the western sky on March 24, we might be able to spot Uranus just above it. It is worth a try.

The first full moon of spring (after the equinox on March 19) is on March 25. The very next Sunday is March 31, which is Easter Sunday.

The changing dates for spring and full moons is why Easter is not on the same date every year. It is on the first Sunday after the first full moon, after the spring equinox.

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