SKY SIGHTS: Daylight Time starts Sunday

Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Dr. Robert Doyle

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Mineral County Skies is written by Dr. Robert Doyle, professor emeritus of Frostburg State University, for use by the Mineral Daily News Tribune. Doyle taught at FSU and was its planetarium director for more than 40 years.)

This week, dawn in Keyser starts at 6:26 a.m., sunrise is at 7:24 a.m., midday is at 1:24 p.m., sunset is at 7:24 p.m. and dusk ends at 8:22 p.m., with 12 hours of sunlight. The sun shines in Aquarius through March 23.

On Sunday, March 14, in the shift to daylight time, clocks are set ahead an hour in the early morning hours. Sunrise will then come an hour later and there will be one less hour for evening star gazing. Mexico and Canada also observe daylight time. On March 17, day and night are each 12 hours. On the first day of spring on March 20, daylight is 7 minutes longer than night due to the sun’s image bending upward at sunrise and sunset.

The moon now grows in lighted width in the evening sky. On the evening of March 19, the moon will appear to the left of the planet Mars. In the 6:45 a.m. dawn sky, bright Jupiter and Saturn can be seen low in the southeast. Low in the south is the bright pink star Antares of the Scorpion, which appears as a starry J. Nearly overhead is the bright white-blue star Vega. High in the west is the bright golden star Arcturus.

The Big Dipper (seven stars) is easily spotted in the dawn northern sky with its handle stars high and bowl stars below. The two lowest bowl stars point right to the North Star. Notice that the brighter stars have tints compared to the modest stars. This is because the brighter stars display more color due to more light or photons entering one’s eyes. The bluest stars, such as Vega, are hotter and have more shorter waves that one sees. The redder stars, such as Antares, are cooler and give off longer waves. Star colors are also enhanced when viewing the stars with binoculars. This is even more noticeable when using a telescope, which collects more light than binoculars.OK

In the evening sky, Orion with his three-star belt is still prominent, but each week drifts westward due to Earth’s motion about the sun. Orion’s two brightest stars are markedly different in tints. Betelgeuse, the bright pink star, is in Orion’s shoulder, while Rigel is a bright white-blue star in Orion’s foot. Sirius, the night’s brightest star, blazes low in the south. Betelgeuse is a red supergiant star about half as hot as the sun, while Rigel is one of the most powerful stars in this region of the galaxy and three times as hot as the sun. Look at Betelgeuse and then at Rigel to see a marked difference in tints.

For more information about space, contact Dr. Bob Doyle at rdoyle@frostburg.edu.