Events for March 2016

The following table gives the date and time of important astronomical events for March 2016. The time of each event is given in Greenwich Mean Time or GMT (a.k.a. Universal Time or UT). To convert GMT to Eastern Standard Time (EST) just subtract 5 hours. To convert GMT to other time zones, visit Time Zones. Some of the astronomical terms used in the calendar are explained in Definitions.

 Date    GMT   Astronomical Events for March 2016
------  -----  --------------------------------------------
        (h:m)
Mar 01  23:11  LAST QUARTER MOON 
Mar 02  06:53  Saturn 3.6°S of Moon
Mar 07  10:54  Venus 3.5°S of Moon
Mar 08  10     Jupiter at Opposition 
Mar 09  01:54  NEW MOON 
Mar 09  01:57  Total Solar Eclipse; mag=1.045
Mar 09  06:31  Moon at Descending Node 
Mar 10  07:02  Moon at Perigee: 359509 km
Mar 14  13:44  Aldebaran 0.3°S of Moon
Mar 15  17:03  FIRST QUARTER MOON 
Mar 20  04:31  Vernal Equinox 
Mar 20  14     Venus at Aphelion 
Mar 20  19:05  Regulus 2.5°N of Moon
Mar 22  03:57  Jupiter 2.1°N of Moon
Mar 22  12:59  Moon at Ascending Node 
Mar 23  11:47  Penumbral Lunar Eclipse; mag=0.775
Mar 23  12:01  FULL MOON 
Mar 23  20     Mercury at Superior Conjunction 
Mar 25  01:50  Spica 5.1°S of Moon
Mar 25  14:16  Moon at Apogee: 406125 km
Mar 28  18:45  Mars 4.2°S of Moon
Mar 29  14:58  Saturn 3.5°S of Moon
Mar 31  15:17  LAST QUARTER MOON 

As the events above transpire, I will occassionally post photographs of some of them at Recent Images.

Astronomical events calendars for complete years and for eight time zones are available through the links below.

Time Zones Calendars of Astronomical Events
Greenwich Mean Time 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Atlantic Standard Time 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Eastern Standard Time 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Central Standard Time 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Mountain Standard Time 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Pacific Standard Time 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Alaska Standard Time 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Hawaii Standard Time 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021

For additional years, see Calendars of Astronomical Events.

For detailed information on solar and lunar eclipses this year, see: Eclipses During 2016.

For detailed information on the transit of Mercury this year, see: 2016 Transit of Mercury.

The Calendars of Astronomical Events were all generated by a computer program I wrote (with THINK Pascal running on a Macintosh G4) using Astronomical Algorithms (Jean Meeus).

Fred Espenak



Total Solar Eclipses in the USA

Eleven images capture various phases of the 2001 total eclipse from start to finish. Courtesy of "MrEclipse.com".

Eleven images capture various phases of the 2001 total eclipse from start to finish. Courtesy of “MrEclipse.com“.

With interest rapidly building for the upcoming total solar eclipse in the USA on 2017 August 21, I became curious about the rarity of total eclipses in America. The very first total eclipse I witnessed was on 1970 March 7. The path of totality crossed the southeastern USA and included portions of Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia and Nantucket.

Another total eclipse was visible in the USA from the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota) on 1979 February 26. Although a total eclipse was seen on the Big Island of Hawaii on 1991 July 11, no other total eclipse is visible from the lower 48 states of the USA between 1979 and 2017 – a lapse of over 38 years!

Map 1 shows the path of all total (blue) and annular (yellow) eclipses through the continental USA from 1951 through 2000. Courtesy of "Atlas of Central Solar Eclipses in the USA".

Map 1 shows the path of all total (blue) and annular (yellow) eclipses through the continental USA from 1951 through 2000. Courtesy of “Atlas of Central Solar Eclipses in the USA“.

Map 1 shows the path of all total (and annular) eclipses through the continental USA during the last 50 years of the 20th century. Besides the 1970 and 1979 eclipses, the only other USA total eclipses during this period were on 1963 July 20 (Alaska and Maine) and 1954 June 30 (Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan).

Map 2 shows all total (and annular) eclipses through the continental USA during the first 50 years of the 21st century. Looking beyond 2017, the next total eclipse through the USA is on 2024 April 8 and crosses 13 states (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine). The total eclipse of 2044 August 23 crosses Montana and North Dakota. It is followed one year later by the total eclipse of 2045 August 12, which also crosses 13 states (California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida). Although a total eclipse occurs on 2033 March 30, it is only visible from northern Alaska.

Map 2 shows the path of all total (blue) and annular (yellow) eclipses through the continental USA from 2001 through 2050. Courtesy of "Atlas of Central Solar Eclipses in the USA".

Map 2 shows the path of all total (blue) and annular (yellow) eclipses through the continental USA from 2001 through 2050. Courtesy of “Atlas of Central Solar Eclipses in the USA“.

If we only count total eclipses visible from the lower 48 states, we have 4 eclipses from 1951 to 2000, and 4 more from 2001 to 2050. Put another way, there are 8 chances to view a total eclipse from the USA in the period spanning just over a single lifetime. And that’s not even considering the fact that cloudy weather will likely hide half of them from view! Rare events indeed! And one more argument not to miss the Great American Total Eclipse of 2017.

But what if we look many centuries into the future? Does every one of the lower 48 states get a total eclipse in the next 1000 years? Map 3 shows the result of plotting the path of every total eclipse from 2001 through 3000. The country is almost completely covered by eclipse paths. Nevertheless, there are few unlucky locations that do not get a total eclipse over the next 1,000 years. Two examples include western Texas and southern New Mexico. Fear not because they will all eventually fall within the Moon’s shadow sometime. You just have to wait long enough.

Map 3 shows the path of all total eclipses through the continental USA for the next 1000 years (from 2001 through 3000). Courtesy of "Atlas of Central Solar Eclipses in the USA".

Map 3 shows the path of all total eclipses through the continental USA for the next 1000 years (from 2001 through 3000). Courtesy of “Atlas of Central Solar Eclipses in the USA“.

There is something compelling about the pattern of eclipse tracks crossing familiar places many hundreds of years in the past and future. It was this fascination that inspired me to publish a new book “Atlas of Central Solar Eclipses in the USA.”


Fred Espenak


Atlas of Central Solar Eclipses in the USA contains maps and information on every total, annular and hybrid eclipse visible from the USA (including Alaska and Hawaii) for the 2000-year period 1001 to 3000.

Atlas of Central Solar Eclipses in the USA contains maps and information on every total, annular and hybrid eclipse visible from the USA (including Alaska and Hawaii) for the 2000-year period 1001 to 3000.