News release from PARI
Rosman, NC (February 12, 2014) – Astronomers at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) in Rosman remind the public that at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 9 Daylight Saving Time (DST) in the United States begins and we set our clocks forward one hour.
Some people get a bit confused by these changes between Standard and Daylight times thinking that somehow we really “save” time. But realize that this is NOT an astronomical phenomenon! The “lucky ‘ol Sun just keeps rollin’ along” no matter what the US Congress declares. All we are doing is simply shifting our clocks within the solar day to suit our own convenience and save energy.
By the way, when you get up at 2 a.m. on March 9 to change your clocks, walk outside. The most obvious thing you will notice is the sky is dark; there is no Moon in the sky since First Quarter Moon is the afternoon of the 8th. A little east of due south at 2 a.m., are two starlight objects. The one to the right really is a star. This is Spica the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo the maiden. To the left and above of Spica is the red planet Mars; note its color. Down lower in the southeast is the ringed planet Saturn; it is all alone in the midst of the diamond shaped pattern of Libra the scales. Take a look at Saturn with a pair of binoculars and notice that it is not round; Galileo supposedly said that Saturn looks like it has “ears.” What you’re really seeing are its famous rings.
Finally, turn around and look low in the west and you will see the bright planet Jupiter just below two bright stars, Castor and Pollux, the Gemini twins. If you stay out until dawn you will see the other two naked-eye planets, Venus and Mercury, rise before the Sun. So, a couple of hours under the stars will afford you a view of all five of the classical planets. Now, those ARE astronomical phenomena!
PARI is a not-for-profit public foundation established in 1998. Located in the Pisgah National Forest southwest of Asheville, NC, PARI offers educational programs at all levels, from K-12 through post-graduate research. For more information about PARI and its programs, visit www.pari.edu.
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