March 2020 Guide to the Bright Planets
Here’s the March 2020 guide to the night sky. Watch three bright planets and the crescent Moon come together for a planet party on March 17 and 18—plus, a dazzling planet conjunction at the spring equinox. See Bob Berman’s viewing tips to enjoy the night wonders!
Sky Watch March 2020
by Bob Berman, as featured in The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
During March, Venus is the only bright planet lighting up the night sky. It’s impossible to miss. Look high in the southwestern sky after sunset.
Three Planets in a Line
In the morning sky, just before sunrise, look toward the east for a lovely grouping of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The three planets are visible before dawn throughout the month.
- From March 17 to 19, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn bunch together in a line. Look towards the slim crescent Moon which joins the planet party!
- Mars then passes just beneath Jupiter on Spring Equinox (19th) through the 21st, before continuing on its way.
- By month’s end (March 31), Mars appears just beneath Saturn with Jupiter above Saturn.
March 9: The Full Worm Moon
The full Worm Moon rises on March 9 and brings the first supermoon of the year. Here’s all you need to know about the full Worm Moon.
During March evenings, we’ll have Moon-free windows during the latter half of March. Fortunately, this is when we’ll have the best planetary sightings!
See your local Moon Phase Calendar and just punch in your zip code!
March 18: Conjunction of Moon and 3 Planets
As mentioned above, the waning crescent Moon joins three planets on the 18th. This is a don’t-miss conjunction. The Moon hovers just below the planets, with dim orange Mars on the right, brilliant Jupiter in the middle, and medium-bright Saturn farther left. The four celestial bodies stand 17 degrees high 40 minutes before local sunrise, easily seen with the naked eye. The Moon sweeps by all of the planets by the 21st.
March 19: Spring Equinox
The vernal equinox marks the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the start of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. The equinox falls on the 19th at 11:50 p.m. EDT—and is the earliest spring in 124 years! See my post on how and why spring is moving earlier.
By then, North Americans would have been on Daylight Saving Time for over a week (beginning on March 8). See more about Daylight Saving Time.
March 20: Conjunction of Mars and Jupiter
On the 20th, Mars and Jupiter are in a close conjunction. Look an hour before dawn breaks towards the east. Jupiter is the brightest object in the sky so easiest to find first. The Giant Planet passes 0°42’ to the north of Mars. Mars is dimmer than Jupiter but should still be easy to find because no other bright objects are nearby.
March 28: Venus, the Moon, and the Pleides
On March 28, enjoy a beautiful grouping of Venus, the crescent Moon and the Pleiades in the western sky after sunset. Learn more about the Pleiades aka the Seven Sisters.
March 28 to 31: Planet Party
The three planets, minus the Moon, again form a nice grouping from the 28th to the 31st, with Jupiter on the right and Saturn on the left. On the 31st, Mars has a conjunction with Saturn. The two planets will be visible in the dawn sky, rising a few hours before the Sun and shining bright until dawn breaks.
The Brightest Star in the Sky
March is a great month to marvel at Sirius — the brightest star in our sky. Sirius is nicknamed “the Dog Star,” because it’s the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major. Sirius is super easy to locate: Just face toward the south and look for Orion. The three bright stars that make up Orion’s belt point downward, toward Sirius. See my post on Sirius, The Brightest Star in the Sky Tonight.
See the Almanac’s Bright Planets Calculator to find out when planets rises and sets from your backyard. Just type in your zip code!
You can also check the Almanac’s Moonrise and Moonset calculator.