By Bob Killam
Enid News & Eagle
Phases of the moon for March are:
• March 4: Last quarter.
• March 11: New moon.
• March 19: First quarter.
• March 27: Full moon (Lenten Moon, Sap Moon, Crow Moon, Worm Moon).
The Northern Oklahoma College Mackie Planetarium will be open to the public at 6:30 p.m. the first Thursday of each month. Admission is free, but a donation of a canned good or non-perishable food item for Horn of Plenty would be appreciated.
The program for March is “Baxter Black: Cowboy Astronomer,” followed by a program about Enid’s spring night sky.
Weather permitting, the observatory will be open for viewing objects in the night sky.
From Friday through the end of the month, a new comet, C/2011 L4 Pan STARRS, will be visible to the naked eye. You will need a good dark sky location, looking west an hour after sunset. The best dates to see it are March 12 and 13 in our location.
Depending on the comet’s altitude, it may be viewed with the observatory telescope on the evenings it is open for the public.
Clocks spring forward one hour on March 10, from standard time to daylight-saving time. A truer term would be daylight-shifting time, since no time or daylight is saved.
The first day of spring, or vernal equinox, is March 20. The sun, appearing to travel along the ecliptic, reaches the point where it crosses the equator into the northern celestial hemisphere.
Every Wednesday and Thursday, weather permitting, the observatory will be open to the public. Sessions start at 6:30 p.m. Large groups planning to visit the observatory or planetarium should call 548-2399 to schedule an appointment.
Killam is resident astronomer and astronomical league coordinator for Leonardo’s Star Quest Astronomy Club and director of the NOC observatory.