March 2014 Night Photography Events Calendar

Each month I post a monthly night photography events calendar on the first day of the month. Events listed on this calendar are suitable for wide-field and moderate-telephoto astrophotography, as well as for general night photography. Unless otherwise stated, all events occur in the United States at mid-latitudes. Most of the events also occur at other locations, although some of them may require correction for latitude and longitude. The position of the Moon relative to the planets and stars changes throughout the night. Generally, when a position is given, it is for the period about 45 minutes after sunset or 45 minutes before sunrise. Do not confuse the times of the Moon phases for the times of Moonrise and Moonset. Consult local charts for rise and set times.

If you sign up for my free Night Photography News eNewsletter, you’ll receive each calendar two weeks early, on the 15th of the preceeding month. This will give you more time to plan your night shooting.

March of this year gives us several good opportunities for night photography. Among the other usual suspects, we get two New Moons, several nights of zodiacal light, and brilliant Venus blazing in the dawn sky.

The nights are getting shorter, but there are still many hours of darkness for us. For those who stay inside during January and February because of the cold, March is a good time to get out. The nights are warmer, but still chilly enough that sensor noise isn’t a big problem as it is in the summer.

Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17 is a terrific time to get out and enjoy some night shooting while having fun and drinking green beer. If you live near a big city, chances are that there will be a festival going on that includes some sort of green lighting display.

Times are Eastern Standard Time (UTC-5) until March 9 and Eastern Daylight Time (UTC-4) afterward.

All month Orion, the night sky’s brightest and most prominent constellation, shines in the evening night sky. At sunset, it is high in the sky to the South and sets around midnight in the West. It works well as a complement either to a night sky scene or as the prominent compositional element.
All month Jupiter is the brightest object in the night sky after the moon and Venus. At sunset, it is high in the sky and sets around mid-morning toward the West. It shines at about mag -2.3.
All month Mars shines in the dawn sky toward the South-Southwest. It brightens throughout the month, beginning at about mag -0.5 and growing to mag -1.3.
All month Saturn rises around midnight in the East-Southeast and shines high in the dawn sky to the South. It shines at about mag +0.3
All month Venus dims from mag -4.8 to -4.4 but it is easily the brightest object after the moon. It shines low in the dawn twilight sky to the East-Southeast.
First half Faint Mercury shines very low on the horizon in the dawn twilight. Look for it to the lower left of Venus.
1 New Moon at 3am. Don’t forget, the best time to shoot the stars (as either pinpoints or star trails) is when there is no light pollution from the moon.
1 – 2 The zodiacal light is visible in the west after sunset from dark locations. See this blog post for more information.
2 A sliver thin Crescent Moon shines very low on the horizon in dusk twilight sky, looking West.
3 The thin Crescent Moon shines low in dusk twilight sky, looking West.
4 The Crescent Moon shines in dusk twilight sky, looking West.
5 The Crescent Moon shines in dusk twilight sky, looking West.
8 First Quarter Moon at 8:27am.
9 Daylight Savings Time begins at 2am. Most of the United States and Canada will set their clocks forward one hour.
16 Full Moon at 1:09pm. Don’t forget, in addition to including the Full Moon as a complement to a landscape or urban scene, you can use the light from the Full (or nearly full) Moon to illuminate your scene.
17 Saint Patrick’s Day is observed. Major landmarks around the work have special green lighting displays to celebrate the holidays, providing terrific night photo opportunities. Google “turning green for Saint Patrick’s Day 2014” to find something near you. Oh, today is also a good day to drink green beer!
18 – 31 The zodiacal light is again visible in the west after sunset from dark locations. See this blog post for more information.
20 Spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere at 12:57pm.
21 Saturn shines close to the waning Gibbous Moon, looking Southwest. Mars lies farther away to the lower right.
23 Third Quarter Moon at 9:46pm.
26 The Crescent Moon shines to the upper right of Venus in the dawn sky, looking Southeast.
27 A thin Crescent Moon shines low on the horizon in the dawn sky, looking East-Southeast. Venus is very close to the right of the Moon.
28 A very thin Crescent Moon shines low on the horizon in the dawn sky, looking East-Southeast. Venus shines to the upper right of the Moon.
30 The second New Moon of the month occurs at 2:45pm. Don’t forget, the best time to shoot the stars (as either pinpoints or star trails) is when there is no light pollution from the moon.
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