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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.

Go To Comet Lovejoy SkyMaps

The Full Moon for February

All times are EST

 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.

Lunar Phases

Full Moon February 3 6:09 pm EST
Last Quarter Moon February 11 10:50 pm EST
New Moon February 18 6:47 pm EST
First Quarter Moon February 25 12:14 pm EST

February  Lunar Highlights

On February 13th in the eastern morning sky the Moon and Saturn  are an Angular separation: 05°30'12" degrees apart. On February 20th, Venus and Mars are 00°44'03" apart from each other and about 2 degrees from a thin almost two day old crescent Moon image. On February 21st Uranus is occulted by the Moon, an event that will be visible for most of the United States. See Uranus. On February 25th the Moon is Angular separation: 00°36'56" from the star Aldebaran in Taurus. 

Below image of Moon and Aldebaran at 6:00 p.m. February 25th.

The Planets Visibility for February

Mercury

Morning sky ESE

 Mercury re-appears in the morning sky after midmonth. But very low on the horizon and difficult to observe. Mercury is at it's greatest western elongation from the Sun on February 24th.

Venus

Evening sky WSW

 Venus is becoming more prominent now and visible right after sunset in the west southwest. Venus midmonth is at -3.9 magnitude and a diameter of 00°00'.12" located in the constellation Aquarius setting at 7:56 p.m. and on the 16th crosses into Pisces. Watch on February 21st when Mars and Venus appear close together at only an Angular separation: 00°26'08" apart.

The Moon , Venus and Mars below after sunset on February 20th.

Mars

Evening sky WSW

Mars midmonth is at +1.2 magnitude and a diameter of 00°00'.04" located in the constellation Pisces and sets at 8:11 p.m.. Mars is only an Angular separation: 02°56'17" above Venus on the 15th. These two planets grow closer and on February 21st Mars and Venus appear close together at only an Angular separation: 00°26'08" apart. To find Mars look for a reddish object low in the west southwest sky. To see which part of the surface is visible at any time, check out the Mars Profiler at Sky & Telescope Magazine's web page.

JUPITER

 Evening sky E

Jupiter midmonth is at -2.6 magnitude and a diameter of 00°00'.45" located in the constellation Cancer visible after sunset in the east. Jupiter sets around 6:45 a.m.. Jupiter reached opposition on February 6. The planet is visible all night long, rising at sunset and is highest in the sky at midnight and setting at sunrise. 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 

Jupiter midmonth around 8 p.m..

SATURN

  Morning sky SE

Saturn midmonth is at +0.5 magnitude and diameter 00°00'.17" rising around 1:42 a.m. in the east southeast. Saturn is in the constellation Scorpius. Through a small telescope Saturn will reveal the famous rings of the planet. Rings currently are 22.7 tilt. See: Saturn's moons locations

Saturn and Moon 05°30'12" from each other looking SE on February 13th at 4:00 a.m. below.

URANUS

Evening Sky W

 Uranus midmonth is at 5.9 magnitude and diameter 00°00'.03" located in the western sky after sunset setting at 9:35 p.m.. On the evening of February 21st, the 3-day-old crescent Moon will occult the planet Uranus. The Uranus occultation event will begin at dusk at about 5:50:50 p.m. and will appear at 6:54:35 p.m.. A small telescope will reveal this event. See below image: Uranus is located in the constellation Pisces. A moderate-sized telescope will show it as a green-gray disk. See: Sky and Telescope location PDF. Courtesy: Sky and Telescope

The Moon and Uranus below after sunset at 5:48 p.m. just before occultation on February 21st. For details see link: Uranus Occultation

NEPTUNE 

Evening Sky W Lost in Sun's glare

Neptune is in conjunction on with the Sun February 25th and lost in the Sun's glare. A moderate-sized telescope will show it as a blue green disk. Neptune is located in the constellation Aquarius. See: Sky and Telescope location PDF. Courtesy: Sky and Telescope

Bright Asteroids

3 Juno

3 Juno at 8.2 magnitude is in the constellation Hydra. Juno is visible most of the night. See location below for February 7th, 2015.

Dwarf Planets

Pluto

 Pluto at midmonth is visible in the southwest right after sunset very low on the horizon and is amid the stars of the Milky Way in the constellation Sagittarius. Pluto is at magnitude +14.2 and diameter 00°00'.00"  A large telescope is needed to see this distant object.

COMETS

Comets Brighter than 8 Magnitude

Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy

Comet Lovejoy is reported at 5.4 magnitude as of February 25th. Visible after sunset to sunrise. On the 28th of February the comet moves from Perseus into Cassiopeia. 

For more on current Comets and locations see: Seiichi Yoshida web site here.

METEOR SHOWERS

Currently No Major Meteor Shower

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

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