Spring ahead on March 12, well at least for your clocks!

While Spring officially starts on the Vernal Equinox later this month, Daylight savings begins on Sunday morning March 12 at 2:00am when we “spring ahead” an hour.  Find out who to blame for your lack of sleep later in this post. For early risers there are chances to see the International Space Station every morning this week before sunrise.   Here is your guide to the sky for March 6 to 12, 2017…

Make sure to set your clocks forward on March 12

Make sure to set your clocks forward on March 12


Sun – Earth – Moon

Sunrise this week is at 5:58 am and sunset at 5:17 pm.   Sunday morning at 2:00am Daylight Savings Time begins, so remember to set your clocks ahead one hour (Spring forward) before going to bed on Saturday night to make sure you are “on time” for Sunday events!  Full Moon takes place on Sunday at 10:54 am.


Venus is getting lower in western sky and will set at 7:45 pm, while reddish Mars is visible to around 9:00 pm.   The distance between these two continues to increase as they spread out along the ecliptic.  Jupiter  now rises around 8:15 pm east and is visible in the constellation of Virgo.  Saturn rises in the eastern sky around 2:00 am – you might take a look for it on Sunday morning at that time when you set your clock ahead.



DST, Daylight Savings Time, and losing an hour of sleep…

Blame the Canadians for your loss of an hours sleep this weekend!  Daylight savings time first introduced in Port Arthur, Canada was set up with the purpose of making better use of daylight and conserving energy.  Clocks were moved ahead 1 hour from standard time.  It proved popular and started to spread across parts of Canada.  Germany became the first full country to implement it in 1916 in order to save fuel for the war effort during WWI, and the idea was quickly followed by the United Kingdom and other countries.  Many countries reverted back to standard time only after the war.  With the onslaught of WWII the US implemented year round Daylight Savings Time from 1942 to 1945. There were no firm rules about DST from 1945 to 1966, but then the US Congress passed the Time Act of 1966 in an attempt to make schedules for trains, busses, and broadcasting uniform.  Over 70 countries use DST today, but starting and end dates vary from country to country.  Some states in the US such as Hawaii, Indiana, and Nevada do not observe DST.  So now you know all you need to about DST…to me it just means losing an hour of sleep in spring, and gaining one back in fall!

Set Clocks an hour forward for DST

Set Clocks an hour forward for DST

Satellites to see – ISS every morning this week

The International Space Station is visible every morning this week.  Monday look for it from 4:59 to 5:04 am moving from west to east.  Tuesday see it from 4:09 to 4:13 am moving from southeast to east.  On Wednesday find it from 4:51 to 4:57 am moving from west to northeast.  Thursday is is visible from 4:01 to 4:04 am from north to northeast. Friday you can see it from 4:44 to 4:27 am moving from west to east.  Saturday see it from 3:53 to 3:56 am moving from north to northeast, and Sunday  from 5:35 to 5:40am moving from northwest to northeast.

Weather here in March has been warm, then cold, and back and forth.  But this week we should have some clear skies, so before you lose that hour of sleep on Sunday, get out there and spend a few minutes looking at the sky.  Happy stargazing and keep your eye on the sky!


Shawn Laatsch

About Shawn Laatsch

Shawn Laatsch is the director of the Emera Astronomy Center and Jordan Planetarium at the University of Maine. He started his astronomy education career in 1984 and has directed planetariums in university and science center facilities, taught undergraduate astronomy courses, and given numerous lectures around the globe. He serves as President (2017 & 2018) of the International Planetarium Society, Inc. the world’s largest organization of planetarium professionals. Shawn has a passion for sharing astronomy and stargazing with people of all ages.