YNYS Enlli, more commonly known as Bardsey Island, has become the first place in Europe to be awarded dark sky sanctuary certification from the International Dark-Sky Association.

Local wardens spent four years monitoring overnight pollution on the island and after reporting on how non-polluted the skies were, Bardsey has subsequently gained the accolade of being one of the best spots in the world for stargazing.

Allan Trow, founder and one of the managers of Dark Sky Wales, a South Wales based business providing educational services designed to inspire and encourage youngsters, said: “I had the pleasure of conducting an all Wales sky quality survey, part of which included visiting the area.

"I’d like to congratulate all those involved in obtaining the status and look forward to visiting again soon.”

Aurora borealis

A strong geomagnetic storm has caused a display of the aurora borealis across a fair swathe of the UK, including much of Wales.

South Wales Argus: Aurora Borealis-Steve Lubbock

The Aurora Borealis, pictured by Steve Lubbock

In fact, the storm was the combination of two Sun-based events, a “coronal hole high speed stream” and a “rather fast coronal mass ejection” which delivered charged particles from the Sun which when interacting with the Earth’s upper atmosphere cause the ‘northern lights’.

While such outbursts are not rare, its not often we receive such a combination that allows the visibility of the northern lights to extend to more southerly latitudes.

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF)

My opportunity came to spot the comet on the evening of Monday, February 13, and the following evening on Valentine’s Day.

With the use of a pair of 20 x 80 binoculars, I was able to locate Comet C/2022 as it passed close to Aldebaran.

South Wales Argus: C2022E3-ZTF - Dave Eagle

C2022E3-ZTF, pictured by Dave Eagle

Using Aldebaran as a guide to locate the comet and battling against a fair amount of light pollution in Gilwern, the ‘fuzzy blob’ mentioned in February’s The Night Sky finally came into view.

Comet C/2022 had already rounded the Sun and was heading away from us and while some might say that it was indeed only a ‘fuzzy blob’, that mere sight was sufficient for many, realising that the comet is on a trek that will see its return to our neck of the woods in a staggering 50,000 years-time.

Indeed, the comet is a piece of living history, a remnant left over from the creation of our Solar System.

During March, the comet which during its appearance gained the nickname ‘Bob’ from some observers in South Wales, gains even more distance from the Earth and is well beyond the range of amateur binoculars and telescopes. Farewell ‘Bob’!

Stars and constellations

Orion has dominated the winter skies over in the south but as March progresses, Orion will soon be setting over in the south-west earlier and earlier as we edge toward April.

Using the bottom right-hand star in Orion, Rigel, draw an imaginary line up to the top left-hand star Betelgeuse. Continue the angle of the line and it will lead you to two bright stars, Pollux to the lower left and Castor to the higher right, the ‘twins’ in the constellation of Gemini. Pollux, which appears whiter than Castor, appears as the brighter of the two stars.

On the evening of Friday, March 3, a waxing gibbous Moon will be positioned south of Pollux.

Sweeping left of Gemini and passing through Cancer the Crab, you will eventually reach Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation of Leo the Lion.

Under good sky conditions, away from artificial lighting such as streetlights, use Regulus to seek out the ‘Sickle’, a ‘backward question mark’ with Regulus marking the ‘dot’ in the ‘question mark’. From Regulus, see if you can locate the other stars which together make up the head of the lion in the ‘Sickle’.

On Monday, March 6, the Moon, just one day away from being ‘full’, will be positioned to the north of Regulus.

Four days later on March 10, the Moon will appear north of another bright star, Spica, in the constellation of Virgo, the Virgin.

On March 14, the Moon, now approaching last quarter phase, will be north of the bright star Antares, in the constellation of Scorpius, the Scorpion. Later in the month, looking over to the north-west, a waxing crescent Moon will be situated close the Pleiades, (‘Seven Sisters’), star cluster in Taurus the Bull.

March’s full moon

This month’s full Moon occurs on March 7.

Southern Native American tribes called this last full Moon of the winter the ‘Worm Moon’, after the worm trails that would appear as they wriggle out of the thawing March ground.

Other names include Chaste Moon, symbolising the purity of early spring, also Crust Moon, because of the snow that becomes crusty when it thaws in the sun and freezes in the moonlight. Also, Crow Moon, and Sap Moon.

March’s full Moon is the closest full Moon to the 2023 March equinox, indeed, the spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere.

In the Southern Hemisphere at the same time, the autumn equinox is being marked.

The March full Moon in the Northern Hemisphere shows characteristics opposite those of a Harvest Moon, while in the Southern Hemisphere, this full Moon has all the Harvest Moon characteristics.

Spring Equinox

Monday, March 20, at 9.24pm marks the astronomical first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

After this date, it begins to be tilted more toward the Sun resulting in increasing daylight hours.

The word equinox comes from the Latin words for “equal night”—aequus (equal) and nox (night). On the equinox, the length of day and night is nearly equal.


Venus and Jupiter put on a spectacular show at the start of the month with a dazzling display after sunset.

Because of their changing planetary positions as seen from Earth, Jupiter, the less bright of the two, will appear higher in the western sky once the Sun has set.

However, by the end of the month, Jupiter will slowly sink down to be eventually lost in the evening twilight.

Meanwhile, Venus will climb and command the sky as the ‘Evening Star’, setting around 11pm by April 1.

For those of you with keen sight, have a go at trying to spot an extremely slender, (in fact, less than one per cent lit), waxing crescent Moon, which will be positioned to the south-west of Jupiter, both hovering over the western horizon.

On March 23, there will be a lovely alignment in the evening sky with Venus at the top, a crescent Moon in the middle, and Jupiter in the evening twilight. On March 24, the crescent Moon will appear closer to Venus.

Mars, which has kept us company in the night sky for some time now, remains on view high in the south, setting around 2.30am.

On March 28, a waxing crescent Moon will be positioned next to the red planet, both to be found over the north-west horizon.

At the start of March in the morning sky, Mercury and Saturn appear quite close together before sunrise, but if using binoculars to sweep the area, a word of caution regarding the advancing amount of light as the Sun edges toward rising.

By the end of March, Mercury will visible, but once again, only to those with keen vision.

On the evening of March 27, both Mercury and Jupiter will appear low on the western horizon. Again, do take care if sweeping the horizon in the evening with binoculars, the Sun’s glare is still very potent.

Society meetings

Barry Astronomical Society. Monday, March 27. 7pm. ‘Exploration of Jupiter’ – Mike Leggett. Barry Community Centre, Cemetery Road, Barry. Via Zoom, not at the centre.

Usk Astronomical Society. Weekly meetings on a Thursday. March 2, 9, 16, 23, 30. 7.30pm. The Grange, 16 Maryport Street, Usk.

Moon phases

  • Full Moon: March 7;
  • Third quarter: March 15;
  • New Moon: March 21;
  • First quarter: March 29.


Start of March: Sun rises at 6.57am. Sets at 5.51pm.

End of March: Sun rises at 6.50am. Sets at 7.43pm. (BST)

South Wales Argus:

Jonathan Powell is a contributor to the BBC Sky at Night magazine with articles also published in Astronomy Now. He has written three books on astronomy. Jonathan worked at BBC Radio Wales as astronomy correspondent. He is a contributor to CAPCOM, an online magazine which promotes astronomy and spaceflight to the general public. He has also presented on commercial radio and has also presented on an astronomy and space dedicated radio station, Astro Radio UK. He has also written a book on castles, ‘Fortress Wales’, and was part of the writing team for the BBC Television show, ‘The Fast Show’, which won a Bafta.