February Night Skies

Overall, there is not much extra going in the the night skies of February. Jupiter, Saturn and Venus are very close to the sun but may be seen for a short time before sunrise. On the 11th, just before sunrise, Venus will be just .04° south of Jupiter. Mars is still in the Constellation Aries. You can see its red glow at night in the western sky, however, as it is getting farther away from us, there won’t be too many features you can see.

The Moon is at perigee ( closest to the Earth at 229,980 miles) on the 3rd, being at last quarter on the 4th. Apogee (farthest from Earth at 251,324 miles) is on the 18th, being at first quarter on the 19th. New Moon is on the 11th and full Moon on the 27th.

Let us talk about early evening constellations. Off to the west, after sundown, you will see the great square of Pegasus along with Andromeda. Then comes the beautiful constellation of Taurus with Orion the Hunter high in the sky at dark. Gemini will be up above and to the east of Orion, along with Canis Major (who has the brightest star in the night sky Sirius) and Canis Minor to the east of Orion and under Gemini. Leo will be coming up late, signaling we are getting on towards spring. Up north, you can see the great constellation of Perseus under Cassiopeia and Ursa Major will be standing on it’s ladle in the northeast.

Some of the great objects to look at in the sky at this time of the year are the Great Nebula in Orion, the second star of Orion’s sword, which you can see with a set of good binoculars. Also, the Andromeda Galaxy can still be seen in early February in the eastern sky. If you are up for a late night, the Leo galaxies are wonderful to see as well.

Finally, if there is one thing I would ask you to do, is to take your binoculars, yes binoculars, and look at the amazing star fields of Taurus, an open cluster named the Hyades, along with Pleiades, and also the great star field of Perseus. These areas are best seen with your binoculars as they are too big to see all at once in a telescope, and they are, in my opinion, the most beautiful you will see! Clear Skies everyone!

  • Great Orion Nebula
The Early February Skies