Thursday, March 11, 2021

March 14: Spring Ahead, March 20: Spring Arrives!


Spring Ahead and Spring into Spring!

 Turn those clocks ahead one hour on Sunday, March 14! Sure, we lose an hour of sleep, but sunset will be an hour later. Since we're so close to the equinox, you'll see the Sun rise around 7 a.m. and set around 7 p.m. once we start DST.

The Vernal (Spring) Equinox is on March 20th. Folklore says that you can stand an egg on its end on the equinox. Give it a try! In fact, try it today! You can actually do it any day of the year.



What's Up?


The sky is full of stars. There's a rover starting to explore Mars. Is it time to change the clocks again?

Check this week's Star Talk for more information.

New episodes are uploaded each Sunday.

Explore the Universe with RVCC Planetarium



Watch our YouTube channel for weekly updates on what's visible in the sky as well as activities you can do at home.

Do you miss the Planetarium? Take a tour of the exhibits.

Join our Facebook Group for regular posts about astronomy news, activities, virtual tours, satellite passes that you can see in the real sky, and more!

Follow us on Instagram to see pictures we take at the 3M Observatory and other news.

We've put together a list of some of our favorite astronomy websites. This is by no means a complete list of what's out there, just some of the ones that we go to regularly.


Virtual Field Trips


Teachers, Principals, Science Supervisors, Scout Leaders, Home School coordinators, Senior Center managers, and Parents!

 Schedule virtual field trips for your students and clients. Programs are led by a live Planetarium Educator and always include time for Q&A.

Scheduling is flexible. We can present during the school day, after school, or evenings.

Number of attendees: up to 30 per session

Fee: $75 for a 45-minute program

$100 for Magic Tree House: Space Mission

The Planetarium will provide a password-protected Zoom link before your date. We can also schedule programs on Google Meet or Microsoft Teams. You can also invite the Planetarium to join your preferred platform.

  • Rockin' Rocket Ride: Our popular show has an online version. Join us on an adventure into space to learn about the Sun, Moon, and planets. (Grades PreK-K)
  • To the Moon and Back: Begin with a story about the Moon, then watch the Moon change shape in our virtual sky, and pretend to be astronauts who can travel there. (for PreK-Grade 2)
  • Magic Tree House: Space Mission  Join Jack and Annie as they look for answers to questions about space. Together, we’ll explore some of those topics to see if we find similar answers.  (Grades K-4)
  •  Cosmic Address: You probably know your home address, but what about where you live in the Universe? (Grades K-12)
  • Our Solar System: go on a tour of the planets in our solar system (Grades K-12)
  • Tonight's Sky: identify stars and constellations we can see tonight and learn some constellation stories that go along with them. (Grades K-12)
  • Patterns in the Sky: The Sun observe the Sun's rising and setting positions through the year. (Grades 2-12)
  • Patterns in the Sky: Moon Phases Why and how does the Moon's shape change? (Grades 2-12)
  •  True or False, Astronomy Version: Some statements seem obvious, but are they? We'll explore statements like "brighter stars are closer to us" and "the Moon is only visible at night." (Grades 5-12)


Watch at Home!


We've linked to over a dozen planetarium shows on our website for you to enjoy at home. You can learn about stars and planets, mythology stories, flight, and even the weather!


This spring and summer, RVCC has a variety of virtual programs for grade school to high school students. We start with a virtual Open House where vendors will speak to families and students about their programs offered later this month on Sunday, March 21st, from 1-3 pm. Families can register HERE 

We have Black Rocket & Super Science Programs for Kids to increase knowledge in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math). Enrichment programs include English and writing courses, Journalistic Writing, Workshops for Young Writers, and more. The artistic programs include Fantasy Fun Crafts, as well as a class to improve time management and create vision boards. RVCC will be working with the High Level 5th Quarter Training program to provide a health & wellness camp. We also have our great Intro to Astronomy course. SAT/ACT prep courses will also be available for this summer. Spring registration begins March 8th and Summer registration begins April 5th, 2021. 

The Sky in March

Mars is part of the evening sky all month long. Look for the Red Planet high in the west after sunset. Mars passes 7 degrees north of hte star Aldebaran in Taurus the Bull on March 20. The distance between Earth and Mars is increasing. At the start of the month, Mars is 1.48 astronomical units or 137 million miles from Earth. By the month's end, that distance has increased to 1.72 AU or 160 million miles. Mars is shining at about magnitude 1.

Uranus is also part of the evening sky and can be found with binoculars or a small telescope. Look for Uranus about 20 degrees above the western horizon at 7 pm. It will be 4 degrees from the Moon on March 16th.

Mercury was near the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn in the pre-dawn sky, but small Mercury has slipped closer to the Sun and can't be seen by mid-month.

Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southeastern sky just before sunrise. Jupiter is shining at magnitude -2 while Saturn (to the upper right) is at magnitude 0.75.

Venus is too close to the Sun to be seen this month. Venus is at superior conjunction with the Sun on March 26th. This is when Venus will be on the far side of the Sun from us.

The winter constellations, Taurus, Auriga, Gemini, Orion, Canis Major, and Canis Minor, are all in the southwest sky after sunset.

The spring constellations, including Leo the Lion, are starting to make their appearance in the eastern sky in the evening.

Follow RVCC Planetarium on Facebook and YouTube for weekly updates about sky events.



Moon Phases

New Moon March 13

First Quarter March 21

Full Moon March 28

Last Quarter April 4