Astronomy Info & Events - February

Moon Phases

February 3 First Quarter Moon
February 10 Full Moon (Full Snow Moon)
February 18 Last Quarter Moon
February 26 New Moon 

Special Events

February

Watch for comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak increase in brightness this month as it moves in between the constellations of Cancer, the Crab, and Leo, the lion.  A telescope will be required to see this comet but outbursts in brightness are not uncommon for this periodic comet.  A finder chart and more information on the comets of 2017 can be found at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/binocular-comet-bonanza-in-2017/.  This comet will continue to brighten until mid-April so there is some time to view this comet.

February 10

Penumbral lunar eclipse visible tonight.  In progress during Moon rise.  The Moon will be passing through southern penumbral shadow so only a very slight dimming of the northern part of the Moon may be noticeable.

February 13

Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (Edmonton Centre) meeting

Times:  7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. in Margaret Zeidler Star Theatre. This will be the Annual General Meeting and a Member’s Night. Free for anyone to attend.

Visit the RASC Website for more information

February 18

Clyde Tombaugh’s discovery of Pluto 87 years ago (1930)

February 21

Comet 2P/Encke visible below the planet Venus for the next week or so.  Binoculars or a telescope will be needed to view this comet.  It usually appears as a faint fuzzy ball with no real observable tail.  Try using the freeware astronomy program Stellarium available at http://www.stellarium.org to follow the path of this comet and more!

February 26

Annular solar eclipse visible from regions in southern Africa, the southern Atlantic Ocean and southern tip of South America.  Not visible from Canada!

February 26

Mars is 34’ of arc from the planet Uranus.  Nice telescopic conjunction.

Planets

Mercury rises just before the sun along the southeastern horizon and will be very difficult to see from our northern latitude.  At more southerly latitudes, with the ecliptic tilt higher in the sky, Mercury can be seen much better before sunrise.

Venus is found shining brilliantly in the west-southwest sky at sunset this month.  It reaches its greatest brightness on the evening of February 17.  When viewed through a telescope Venus takes on a thin crescent shape this month as Venus swings closer to the Earth in its orbit.  On February 1 you can see the bright planet Venus and the fainter planet Mars just below the waxing crescent Moon.  On February 27 and February 28 look for Venus just above the waxing crescent Moon.

Mars is also found in the west-southwestern sky at sunset and is located in the constellation of Pisces, the fish.  Mars will be much fainter than Venus but will have a reddish-orange hue to it.  Look for Mars near the waxing crescent Moon after sunset on February 1 and then again on February 28.

Jupiter is found rising in the east-southeast before midnight local time and by sunrise is seen about 25 degrees above the southwestern horizon.  Look for Jupiter below and very near to the waning gibbous Moon during the night of February 14/15.  Jupiter remains situated within the constellation of Virgo, the maiden, for the month and can be located just above the bright star Spica.

Saturn is found within the constellation of Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer, for almost all of the month before it enters into the adjacent constellation of Sagittarius, the archer, around February 24.  Saturn rises along the southeastern horizon around 5:00 a.m. local time at the start of the month and then by 4:00 a.m. local time by the end of the month and sits low in the southern sky by sunrise.  Saturn will be found below the waning crescent Moon on the mornings of February 20 and 21.