March has a few treats in store for skywatchers. How to and where you can see the March total solar and partial lunar eclipses is limited this time around for most of the United States but you will be able to watch the total solar eclipse live stream.
In addition to the total solar eclipse and a partial lunar eclipse, and Jupiter will shine extra brightly. It’s a good month to look up and do some reflecting, so here’s how to catch these events.
March 8: Jupiter at Opposition
Since Jupiter is directly opposite the sun in the sky, it rises just as the sun sets, remains visible all night long, and sets as the sun rises.
Jupiter is now the brightest object in the night sky with the exception of the moon and the International Space Station. There’s no difficulty telling the difference between Jupiter and the space station, because Jupiter appears stationary, while the orbiting laboratory moves across the sky rapidly, taking about 5 minutes to cross. You can track the Space Station, and other things up there, on their interactive satellite tracker map over at Space.com.
And, if you are new to the planets and constellations you will find this Google App for reading the nightsky quite handy!
According to Mother Nature Network…
The eclipses aren’t the only skywatching events worth noting on your March calendar. Jupiter will shine extra brightly this month, and on March 8, it will be at opposition, making it easier to see. A planet is at opposition when the Earth comes between its orbit of the sun. The planet is closet to Earth (only 413 million miles away) during this time and appears farthest from the sun in the sky. According to EarthSky, “Jupiter comes to opposition about every 13 months. In other words, that’s how long Earth takes to travel once around the sun relative to Jupiter.”
Look for Jupiter rising in the east at dusk. At midnight it will be high in the sky. It will set in the west. While you can see Jupiter easily with the naked eye, binoculars and telescopes will allow stargazers to see the planet’s details along with its four moons.
According to In-the-Sky.org…
This optimal positioning occurs when Jupiter is almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky. Since the Sun reaches its greatest distance below the horizon at midnight, the point opposite to it is highest in the sky at the same time.
At around the same time that Jupiter passes opposition, it also makes its closest approach to the Earth – termed its perigee – making it appear at its brightest and largest.
This happens because when Jupiter lies opposite the Sun in the sky, the solar system is lined up so that Jupiter, the Earth and the Sun form a straight line with the Earth in the middle, on the same side of the Sun as Jupiter.
Jupiter takes approximately 12 years to come full circle. Therefore, every 3 years or so, Jupiter will transit conjunct, square, or opposite a natal point. When that natal point is an intensely personal planet or point (such as the Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Mercury, Venus, or Mars), we feel its effects in a similarly personal way.
Jupiter transits perhaps receive more positive press than they deserve, as those of us who have waited for Jupiter to transit conjunct our Sun can attest. Why? Because if we wait for Jupiter to bestow us with wonderful gifts, we are sure to be disappointed. What Jupiter does do is infuse us with the license to dream, to hope, and to feel good about ourselves.
Jupiter is an influence that acts to expand and enlarge our personal landscapes. Jupiter transits allow growth and expansion of consciousness involving the conditions and natures of the houses and planets involved. Our confidence and level of joy is increased in these areas of life, and we feel motivated to improve or gain in these areas of life. These are times in our lives when we feel a little more free and confident, and when we are not as aware of restraints.
According to CafeAstrology…
Jupiter, the King of the Gods, is the ruler of Sagittarius. In Astrology, Jupiter is a planet of plenty. It is tolerant and expansive. The first of the social planets, Jupiter seeks insight through knowledge. Some of this planet’s keywords include morality, gratitude, hope, honor, and the law. Jupiter is a planet of broader purpose, reach, and possibility.
Jupiter has generally been associated with good luck and bounty. Optimism and growth (including mental and spiritual growth) come under its rule. On the up side, Jupiter is associated with a sense of humor, good will, and mercy. The more negative manifestations of Jupiter include blind optimism, excess, and overindulgence. Irresponsibility that results from blind optimism, not ill will, can be displayed.
In the chart, the position of Jupiter by sign reveals how we express our generosity and tolerance. It shows how we go about trusting others and improving our lives. Where do we look for wisdom and understanding? Look to Jupiter’s position by house and to the planets it contacts for answers.
When Jupiter Transits Opposite Your Natal Sun
According to CafeAstrology…
You might fall victim to wasting opportunities, time, or resources when transiting Jupiter opposes your natal Sun. Generally, this transit is a “feel-good” transit. You are likely to be feeling quite powerful and optimistic. The problem with the transit is that you might over-reach as a result of these inflated feelings of importance. This need not be the case at all. In fact, you might find that you receive a much-needed boost to your ego at this time.
If you are totally into astrology, CafeAstrology has the most complete and detailed charts with dates, trines, retrogrades, squares, phases and more, that I’ve seen anywhere!
Watching Jupiter and its Moons
If you own binoculars, try mounting them solidly and see if you can see Jupiter’s four brightest moons. These were one of the first major discoveries made by Galileo in 1609 with his newly constructed telescope. He realized within a few days that these tiny spots of light were in orbit around the planet, and he used this to help prove Copernicus’ model of a sun-centered system of planets.
Jupiter’s moons are fascinating to watch in even the smallest telescopes. They can be seen shifting positions in less than an hour, and often pass in front of or behind Jupiter itself. When passing in front of Jupiter, they cast their shadows on the giant planet’s face.
The cloud tops of Jupiter’s thick atmosphere are clearly visible in amateur telescopes. Two dark cloud belts parallel its equator, with thinner cloud belts visible toward its poles. It has a famous cyclonic feature in its upper atmosphere with a distinctive salmon-pink color, known as the Great Red Spot. This has been followed by astronomers for several centuries, making it the oldest and largest storm system in the solar system, about three times the size of the Earth.
About the Solar Eclipse in Pisces on March 8, 2016
A wonderful excerpt from CafeAstrology…
A Total Solar Eclipse occurs on March 8th at 8:56 AM EST at 18 degrees and 56 minutes of Pisces. Its effects can be felt up to six months after the actual date of the eclipse. In the sign of Pisces, imagination, service, dreams, ideals, and compassion will be in focus. This eclipse is about new beginnings when it comes to taking a leap of faith, our beliefs, the acceptance of imperfections and flaws, imagination and intuition, selfless service, and dreams. This eclipse is about new beginnings regarding all of these matters.
This eclipse will illuminate our coping skills, faith, and dreams, and possibly challenge them.
Flaws in an important system in our lives are revealed around the time of the eclipse, prompting us to redo or to start fresh. We may find ourselves completely re-working this area of life. Something ends in order for something else to start anew. We may be called to give up something in order to move forward into a new chapter in our lives. Although the “new” may be unrecognizable, it is important to allow the necessary surrender to the unknown.
This is a time when we should build our powers of acceptance, belief, and compassion; take a leap of faith–believe in something higher; start a creative, imaginative project; practice putting ourselves in others’ shoes, and let some things go (such as judgments, annoyances, and the like); revitalize ourselves through experiences that require imagination, compassion, or that simply represent a “break” from the routine; give ourselves selflessly through compassionate service; and to share a dream with others. For some of us, circumstances are such that we need to pay more attention to our spirituality. Nagging problems from the past six months need to be dealt with and put behind us.
We may find ourselves completely re-working the area of life ruled by Pisces in our charts. It’s a time to take special note of our dreams, as well as insights or thoughts/emotions that seem to come from “out of the blue”. These could be creatively inspiring. The range of emotions that Pisces registers is extraordinary, and this could be a time when we feel that enormous range. With the health and service axis (Pisces-Virgo) involved, health or work issues may come to the fore. As well, the ability to set boundaries to the amount of service we render can become a major issue. Situations that test our faith, or magnify our fears and doubts, may be part of the picture. For some, a new “calling” will surface in the coming six months. A new line of work that better matches our inner nature, desire to serve, or emotional make-up may unfold in the months following this eclipse. We may discover that we need more rest and relaxation or attention to our spiritual nature than we are currently allowing ourselves.
Release comes through humbling ourselves to the idea that things will work out. We do not need to be “on” all the time. Give yourself a break from daily pressures, and surrender yourself to the idea that “what will be, will be”, at least for the time being.
One of Pisces’ “lessons” is to release some of the anxiety that takes control of our everyday lives. So, for example, if someone is blocking your way in the grocery store, tell that person, “Take your time”, and mean it! If that statement might be taken as sarcasm, don’t say it out loud, but think it. You might “lose” 20 seconds of your time waiting for that person to move out of the way, but you will have saved yourself the stress and negativity that comes from allowing yourself to get annoyed and impatient. Same goes for drivers who take your turn at a stop sign. Let it go. Smile at the driver, instead of throwing your hand up in protest, or at the very least, smile to yourself. There is no need to get worked up. These are “little things” that, if practiced often enough, will actually condition you to understand and apply Pisces lessons in more substantial or far-reaching ways.
With this eclipse, we might experience a strong urge to act on impulse. However, it will be important to avoid jumping to conclusions and asserting ourselves without considering others’ feelings and reactions. There is a big difference between asserting ourselves from a place of healthy confidence, and asserting ourselves brashly and blindly, designed to give us a false sense of confidence or bravery.
With this potent Pisces energy, we have the chance to make important changes in our lives that will benefit us well beyond this Moon cycle. For some of us, circumstances are such that we need to pay more attention to these matters.
An eclipse occurs close to the nodal axis, and this eclipse is closer to the South Node of the Moon in Aries. Eclipses close to the South Node tend to “feel” a little more challenging than those conjunct or closer to the North Node, as we can concentrate too much on the idea that we might have to let something go. Those of us with planets and points strongly stimulated by this eclipse can feel especially drained and tired, both physically and emotionally. There is a need to let go, forgive, cleanse, and release.
This eclipse opposes Jupiter and squares Saturn (Jupiter and Saturn will reach an exact square aspect on March 23rd). Jupiter has been encouraging us, through its conjunctions to the North Node this year, to move forward, accept, grow, and let go of the past in the process. This Solar Eclipse can emphasize that which we are leaving behind, and its square to Saturn can remind us that following the rules and respecting our limitations is important. Some re-structuring of our lives, and of our business goals and belief systems, is now in order.
Major developments in the personal areas ruled by Pisces in our charts are likely to occur over the course of the next 3-6 months. This is one of many in a series falling along the Virgo-Pisces axis. There was a Solar Eclipse in Pisces on March 20th, 2015, and a Solar Eclipse in Virgo in September 2015; and there will be a Solar Eclipse in Virgo in September 2016, a Lunar Eclipse in Pisces in September 2016, and a Solar Eclipse in Pisces in February 2017.
Not everyone will feel the effects of the eclipse with the same intensity. Those whose personal planets are activated by the degree of the eclipse will feel its effects on a personal level the most.
This phase of the Moon occurs at 18 degrees and 56 minutes of Pisces, affecting people born with personal planets and points at 14 to 24 degrees of the Mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces) most significantly. The chart of this eclipse is above.
Solar eclipses occurred at approximately the same degree as this March 2016 eclipse in March 1989 and March 1997. It might help to think back to these periods and consider the themes that surrounded your life then in order to get a better understanding of what the current eclipse series might mean for you. This eclipse is opposite the September 2015 Virgo eclipse, and we may see some further development of events and projects around that time. The last time we had a set of Virgo-Pisces eclipses was September 2006 to February 2008. Continue reading this excerpt here.
March 8-9: Total Solar Eclipse
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon comes directly between the sun and the Earth. The moon’s umbra (shadow) is cast on Earth. Residents of Indonesia and parts of the Pacific will enjoy a total solar eclipse on March 9. People living in Malaysia, southeast Asia and northern Australia will see a partial solar eclipse. For places that are east of the International Date Line, such as Hawaii, the eclipse will occur on March 8. If you are lucky enough to be in the Pacific, be sure to protect your eyes when viewing the eclipse, and never look directly at the sun.
If you’d like to view the total solar eclipse from your computer, Exploratorium will be live streaming the event. The webcast out of Micronesia begins on March 8 at 8 p.m. EST. Exploratorium will also host a live telescope feed of the event, beginning at 7 p.m.
(And for those who live in North America, the next total solar eclipse will occur on Aug. 21, 2017)
March 23: Penumbral lunar eclipse
A penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth and Moon align in an almost straight line. When this happens, the Earth blocks some of the Sun’s light from directly reaching the Moon’s surface, and covers a small part of the Moon with the outer part of its shadow, also known as the penumbra. The rest receives direct sunlight and can be as bright as a full Moon.
Because of this, it is often hard to differentiate between a normal full Moon and a penumbral eclipse of the Moon. In fact to an observer standing on the Moon, the Sun would be partially eclipsed by the Earth.
Two weeks after the solar eclipse, look out for a penumbral lunar eclipse. While a solar eclipse occurs when the moon is between the sun and Earth, a lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth in the middle of the syzygy (when three celestial objects line up). This month’s lunar event will be a penumbral lunar eclipse, which is the most subtle of the three lunar types. In this type of eclipse, the Earth’s fainter outer shadow covers the moon’s disc. It’s not as dramatic as the other types of eclipse as there is never a chunk taken out of the moon. Rather, the face of the moon will appear slightly darker.
The penumbral lunar eclipse will be visible in North America, most of South America, Australia, most of Asia, the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans. The eclipse will begin at 5:39 a.m. EST, with the maximum eclipse starting at 6:57 a.m. The eclipse will end at 9:54 a.m., according to TimeAndDate.com. For residents on the West Coast, the event will begin bright and early at 2:39 a.m. PST, with the maximum at 4:47 a.m. It will end at 6:54 a.m. More on penumbral lunar eclipses can be found here.Transparency & Appreciation: I want all of my readers to know that I do provide links on this blog to other businesses that sell products that I use and love, I will never post a link to anything that is inconsistent with my ideology.
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