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The February Night Sky

The sky is not a painting, it's a movie. Stars pulse, flare, some explode as supernova, asteroids whiz by the earth, new comets appear in the sky, Aurora sets the northern skies ablaze and meteors streak through Earth's atmosphere.

 Astronomy Picture of the Day

See below Hubble site Tonight's Sky, highlights of this months night sky movie with narration below. Click on photo below.

The Full Moon for February

The Full Snow Moon – February. Since the heaviest snow usually falls during this month, native tribes of the north and east most often called February’s full Moon the Full Snow Moon. Some tribes also referred to this Moon as the Full Hunger Moon, since harsh weather conditions in their areas made hunting very difficult.. Courtesy: Farmers Almanac.

Lunar Phase

First Quarter Moon February 3 11:19 pm EST
Full Moon February 10 7:33 pm EST
Last Quarter Moon February 18 2:33 pm EST
New Moon February 26 9:58 am EST


February Visible Lunar Highlights

February 10, penumbral eclipse of the Moon, February 11, Regulus 0°.8 N. of Moon, After sunrise, February 20, Saturn 4° S. of Moon.


Faint penumbral eclipse of the Moon

February 10, 2017 the Full Moon occurs at 7:33 pm when the penumbral eclipse begins as the Moon cuts into the Earths shadow at 7:33 pm. At 7:43 pm maximum eclipse occurs and ends when the Moon leaves leaves the penumbra at 9:55 pm. Look closely and you may notice a a dark gray shading to the Moon’s northern limb. This is a subtle event and will not be easy to see the slight darkening of a portion of the Moon by the Earths shadow. This event is visible around sunset or early evening for most of the Americas. 

The Planets Visibility

Image below show planets for February 8th right after sunset. 


Close to the Sun

 Mercury is currently lost in glare of the morning Sun. Mercury next appears in the late March evening western sky.


Evening sky SW

Venus greatest illuminated extent is on February 17, it is -4.8 magnitude with a diameter 00°00'39" and phase of 26.78%. Venus sets at 9:11 pm.. Venus will be the brightest object in the western evening sky. Venus is in the constellation Pisces.


Evening sky SW

Mars February 17, is at +1.2 magnitude with a diameter 00°00'05" located in the constellation Pisces which is visible after sunset in the south southwest. Mars sets at 9:34 pm. Mars appears as a blurry small disk to to its distance from Earth.

To see which part of Mars surface is visible at any time, check out the Mars Profiler at Sky & Telescope Magazine's web page.


Evening-Morning Sky S

Jupiter February 15, is at -2.3 magnitude with a diameter 00°00'41" located in the constellation Virgo. Jupiter rises east southeast. at 10:11 pm. The Moon is 07°12'02" degrees Jupiter.

A small telescope will easily reveal four of Jupiter's largest and brightest moons. Check out Sky & Telescope's Jupiter Moons Utility for other configurations. Sky and Telescope Red Spot Calculator 


Morning sky ESE 

Saturn February 15, is at +0.6 magnitude with a diameter 00°00'16" located in the constellation Ophiuchus visible in the south southeast. Saturn rises at 3:23 am.

See: Saturn's moons locations 


Evening  Sky W

Uranus February 15, is at 5.9 magnitude and diameter 00°00'.03" sets at 10:12 pm in the constellation Pisces.

 A moderate-sized telescope will show it as a faint green-gray disk. See: Sky and Telescope location PDF. Courtesy: Sky and Telescope


Evening  Sky lost in the Suns glare

Neptune will next appear low in the early morning sky around early April.

See: Sky and Telescope location PDF. Courtesy: Sky and Telescope

Dwarf Planets

4 Vesta  reached opposition January 17th. On February 15, it is at magnitude 6.8 located in the constellation Gemini and is  03°18'57" from the star Pollux in Gemini.

1 Ceres is at 9 magnitude in the west southwest in the constellation Cetus setting at 11:03


Evening Sky 

Pluto is located amid the stars of the Milky Way in the constellation Sagittarius. Pluto is at magnitude +14.3 and diameter 00°00'.00" rising at 4:46 am in the southeast just before sunrise.


45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova (2016)

The comet raveling at 51,000 mph, makes its closest approach to Earth at 3:00 am February 11th, 2017. The comet at 3:00 am will be about 25 degrees above the eastern horizon. Motion of the comet through a telescope is very obvious. The closest approach to Earth is on February 11th when the comet passes about 8 million (7818135.17930287) miles from Earth. The comet should be visible with binoculars. In a telescope it appears as a fuzzy object at about 7.9 magnitude.

See image below for position of comet on February11th at 3:00 am at RA: 16h 35m 55s Dec: +25°01'54". 


 The comet reached perihelion December 31, 2016. Comet 45P, was discovered by Minoru Honda in December 1948. This comet is a periodic comet and orbits the Sun once every 5.25 years.

  For more on current Comets and locations see: Sky & Telescope also Seiichi Yoshida web site here.


There are no significant meteor showers in February.


See: Listen to Meteors , American Meteor Society, Meteors Online also NASA All Sky Network

Some local links below to Heavens Above satellite information website.

Satellites Visible from York

Satellites visible from Hanover

Satellites visible from Gettysburg

Satellites visible from Lancaster

Satellites visible from Baltimore

Satellites visible from Harrisburg

Also see: Spaceflight NASA

The Sun

Real time solar wind dials are linked live to the ACE Spacecraft.

 If the dial on the left (Magnetic Field) has dipped below zero, the speed is high and the dial dynamic pressure is in the yellow/red, be alert for Aurora. Anytime the gauges are in the Red and the dial on the left, the Magnetic Field BZ has dipped to the yellow-red... Aurora will be occurring in our area. See link to solar wind gauge here: REAL TIME SOLAR WIND

See explanation of  solar wind dials below by clicking on photo of dials


Use your hand to find degrees

NASA Night Sky Network Planner

Free download. AstroPlanner  

Download a free starmap at: Skymaps

Make your own starmap at: Star Finder

Download a free Planetarium for your computer at: Stellarium or Hallo Northern Sky Stellarium has many extra features.

Your Sky - Fourmilab

Your night sky map on the internet

Sky & Telescope Interactive Sky Chart Register to use.

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