Astronomical Events in March 2024: Complete Guide

~8 min

This is a complete guide to the night sky in March 2024 for both hemispheres. Use the free astronomy app Sky Tonight for detailed information on sky objects for your exact location.


Astronomical events in March 2024

The event dates given further are in GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), and the exact dates vary for different locations. To find out the time and date of the event for your location, use Sky Tonight.

*The highlighted events are the most important events of the month.

About magnitude: the faintest magnitude visible to the naked eye in cities with moderate light pollution (e.g., New York City) is about 4. The limiting magnitude of an optical device depends on its specification but rarely exceeds 11.

Planets in March 2024

Northern Hemisphere

Mercury (mag -0.1) can be seen from the middle of the month in the evening, low above the western horizon, for no more than an hour in Pisces. Venus (mag -3.9) and Mars (mag 1.3) are in Capricornus in the first half of the month, then move to Aquarius. They rise above the eastern horizon in the morning and are too close to the Sun to be visible. Jupiter (mag -2.0) rises in the evening in Aries. Saturn (mag 1.1) becomes visible only by the end of the month in the morning, very low above the eastern horizon in Aquarius. Uranus (mag 5.7) can be seen in Aries in the evening. Also, in the evening, look for Neptune (mag 7.9) at the beginning of the month near the western horizon in Pisces.

Southern Hemisphere

Mercury (mag -0.2) is visible in Pisces in the evening at the middle and end of the month. Venus (mag -3.9) and Mars (mag 1.3) rise low above the eastern horizon in the morning for no more than an hour. They are in Capricornus at the beginning of the month, then move to Aquarius. Jupiter (mag -2.0) is in Aries in the evening. Saturn (mag 1.1) is visible from the middle of the month in the morning, low above the eastern horizon for no more than an hour in Aquarius. Spot Uranus (mag 5.7) in the northwest in Aries in the evening. Neptune (mag 7.9) is in Pisces in the evening at the beginning of the month and near the horizon in Pisces in the morning at the end of the month.

March Equinox: day of “equal” day and night

On March 20, at 03:07 GMT (10:07 p.m. EST), the first equinox of the year takes place. For the Northern Hemisphere, it will be the vernal equinox and the first day of spring; for the Southern Hemisphere, this day marks the autumnal equinox and the first day of fall.

On the equinox, neither of the Earth’s hemispheres is tilted towards the Sun, and people in most places experience an almost equal day and night. The only exceptions are both poles, where daylight on the day of the equinox lasts 24 hours. Have you already known this fact? Test your knowledge of solstices and equinoxes in our fun quiz!

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Full Worm Moon

On March 25, at 07:00 GMT (2:00 a.m. EST), the Full Moon will take place. Find our natural satellite in the constellation Virgo, near its brightest star, Spica. Use the Sky Tonight app to identify other bright “dots” near the Moon. And don’t forget that although in astronomical terms the Full Moon is the precise moment in time, to the unaided eye, the Moon looks fully illuminated the day before and after the exact event.

All the Full Moons have traditional names that originate from different cultures. The one in March has one of the weirdest nicknames: in America and Europe, it’s called the Worm Moon because this month, the earthworms start to appear in the soil, which finally warms up after the cold winter season. Find out the other names of the March Full Moon in our dedicated article.

But a peculiar name isn’t the only notable thing about the March Full Moon.

Penumbral lunar eclipse

On March 25, a penumbral lunar eclipse will occur, and 95.57% of the Moon will be immersed in the Earth's penumbral shadow.

During a penumbral lunar eclipse, the lunar disk is only slightly darkened — the difference is barely noticeable to the naked eye. If the sky is cloudy or the atmosphere is polluted, you won't even be able to see the difference. Near the midpoint of the eclipse, the lunar surface may turn a darker brownish color.

Full Moon vs. Penumbral eclipse
Left, a normal Full Moon. Right, a Full Moon during a penumbral eclipse.

Lunar eclipses are visible from only some locations. This particular eclipse will be visible to observers from southern and western Europe, east of Asia, much of Australia, much of Africa, North America, South America, the Arctic, and Antarctica.

The eclipse will last 4 hours and 39 minutes, from 04:53 to 09:32 GMT, with a maximum at 07:12 GMT. To find out the best time to view this eclipse from your location, use the Eclipse Guide app, which is specifically designed for eclipse viewing. And don't forget that next month we'll get to see the best eclipse of the year!

See also: Infographic About 5 Upcoming Eclipses.

5 Upcoming Eclipses Infographics preview
List of 5 upcoming lunar and solar eclipses, their dates, timelines, and visibility maps. Find out whether you can see them from your location!
See Infographic

12P/Pons-Brooks and other comets visible in March 2024

Observers from the Northern Hemisphere, get your optics ready to view 12P/Pons-Brooks! On its way to maximum brightness in April, the comet is already well visible in binoculars and telescopes and is expected to vary between magnitude 7 and 6 throughout March.

Astrophotographers can capture the beautiful gas tail that 12P/Pons-Brooks grew last month (note that such gas tails look amazing in photos but are usually not visible to the naked eye).

12P/Pons-Brooks rises above the horizon in the evening and morning hours. It begins the month in the constellation Andromeda, then moves to Pisces, and arrives in Aries by the end of March. On March 31, the comet will be less than half a degree from Hamal, the brightest star in the constellation. Read more key dates for 12P/Pons-Brooks in our dedicated article. Or locate the comet in the sky right now using the Sky Tonight app.

Pons-Brooks Trajectory

Another comet to see in March is the short-period comet C/2021 S3 (PanSTARRS). Around March 1, it should be at its brightest and visible with binoculars at a magnitude of about 9.9. Spot it in the morning, relatively high above the southeastern horizon. The comet will pass through the constellations Serpens Cauda, Aquila, Sagitta and finish the month in Vulpecula. The easiest way to find C/2021 S3 (PanSTARRS) in the sky is to use the Sky Tonight app, which shows the exact position of any celestial object for your location at the chosen time.

Meteor showers in March 2024

The period between early January and mid-April is poor for meteor observations. During this time, there are no outbursts of meteor activity.

In March, only one meteor shower — γ-Normids (Gamma-Normids) — reaches its maximum. Visible only from southern latitudes, it peaks on March 14 and produces about 6 meteors per hour. This year, the Moon won't interfere with observations; look for meteors after local midnight.

Even in the months without prolific meteor showers, you can try to catch a few "shooting stars". On moonless nights, go outside and look at the night sky. There's a chance you'll see sporadic meteors — those not associated with a particular shower. By the way, you have a better chance of seeing sporadic meteors in the morning. There are 3 to 4 times more "shooting stars" during the pre-dawn hours.

Meteor showers March-June 2024
Six meteor showers reach their maximum activity from March to June 2024. Read our dedicated article to find info on the peak dates and observing conditions.

Asteroids in March 2024

In March, observers with binoculars will be able to see 4 Vesta, the second largest and brightest object in the main asteroid belt. The asteroid will have a magnitude of 7-8 and will be brighter in early March. Look for Vesta in the evening in the constellation Taurus, where it will be all month. At the beginning of March, the asteroid will be near the star Tianguan, which represents the tip of one of the horns of Taurus.

Read also: When Is the Next Asteroid Predicted to Hit Earth in 2024?

Deep-sky objects in March 2024: Join the Messier marathon

March is the perfect time to observe deep-sky objects. During this month, enthusiasts participate in the Messier Marathon and try to find as many objects from the Messier catalog as possible in one night. It usually coincides with the New Moon phase, which this year falls on the night of March 9-10.

Besides, March is the beginning of galaxy season! There are many galaxies in the sky this month for all levels of observing skills. If you're a beginner, look for Bode's Galaxy (M81), which is bright and easy to see; right next to it is the slightly fainter Cigar Galaxy (M82). Try to capture them in one frame!

Pinwheel Galaxy (M101) is another galaxy to look for in March. Located in the constellation of Ursa Major, it has a magnitude of 7.9 and can be seen with binoculars or small telescopes from dark locations. The Pinwheel Galaxy is easy to find — it's close to the "handle" of the "bowl" that forms the Big Dipper asterism.

More advanced observers can try to catch the isolated barred spiral galaxy NGC 2903 in Leo. By the way, Messier missed this galaxy when compiling his catalog. Tip for astrophotographers: you will need a lot of exposure time to bring out its wispy arms.

But galaxies aren't the only deep sky objects to look at in March. The Wishing Well Cluster (NGC 3532) is a perfect object for viewing: at magnitude 3, it is visible to the naked eye. On a clear, dark night, it appears as a hazy patch in the sky. Through binoculars or a telescope, this stunning cluster looks like a collection of silver coins scattered at the bottom of a well — hence its nickname.

You can find more galaxies and star clusters visible this month in our dedicated article. To locate all the listed objects in the sky from your location, get the free astronomy app Sky Tonight.

March DSO
Some of the galaxies visible in March. Find the complete list here.

How to navigate the night sky?

The best helper for observing the night sky is the mobile app Sky Tonight:

  1. Stay up-to-date on celestial events: Sky Tonight sends you alerts about meteor showers, eclipses, and other celestial events, so you don't miss any opportunities to see the night sky at its best.

  2. Discover celestial objects you've never heard of before: the app’s database of stars, constellations, and other celestial objects is comprehensive, making it easy to find and learn about new things in the night sky. All the objects are available for free!

  3. Plan stargazing trips: Sky Tonight helps you find the best night for observations for your location, so you can plan the time to see the stars in all their glory.

  4. Learn about astronomy: the app's educational resources and guides can help you deepen your understanding of the night sky, making stargazing an even more enriching experience.

  5. Share your love of astronomy: with its easy-to-use interface and customizable features, the Sky Tonight app is the perfect tool for introducing others to the joys of stargazing.

Have a look at our video tutorials to get the most out of the app.

Celestial events in March 2024: bottom line

March 2024 is an exciting month for astronomy enthusiasts. Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is getting brighter by the day, a penumbral lunar eclipse will be visible from many locations, and a new season is coming. Get the Sky Tonight app to navigate the night sky easily and never miss an astronomical event!