Thursday 1 February 2024

February Night Skies

A brief overview of what to see in the night sky with the unaided eye during February evenings:

Stars and Constellations

Some prominent constellations visible in the evening sky are Leo and Ursa Major (containing the Big Dipper star group)
● Leo, rising higher in the southeastern sky, is dominated by the bright star Regulus
● The Big Dipper and Ursa Major are rising high in the northeastern sky
● Two bright stars in Leo are Regulus, at the western end (and at the base of the backward “question mark”), and Denebola, at the eastern end of Leo
● South of Regulus is the red star Alphard, in the less prominent constellation Hydra

Planets

●    Mercury is not practically visible during February and is close to the sun’s position
●    Venus shines brightly low in the southeastern sky before sunrise
●    Mars is visible low in the southeastern sky before sunrise in the Capricornus constellation
●    Jupiter shines brightly high in the western sky for several hours after sunset in the Aries constellation and then sets near midnight
●    Saturn is briefly visible low in the southwestern sky after sunset during early February and then passes conjunction with the sun February 28, and then emerges into the pre-dawn sky later in March

Moon Phases

●    Last Quarter Moon February 2, 18:18 EST
●    New Moon February 9, 17:59 EST
●    First Quarter Moon February 16, 10:01 EST
●    Full Moon March 24, 07:30 EST

Noteworthy Sky Events

●    Feb. 22: Mars very close to Venus in the pre-dawn sky

Sky Resources Online 

Some web resources for sky charts, weekly sky events, and more info:
●     astrogeo.ca/skylights
●     www.heavens-above.com
●     In-the-sky.org
●     www.skyandtelescope.org
●     www.skymaps.com

Star Chart for mid-February, mid-evening (courtesy of www.heavens-above.com):