Looking Up: Venus a morning star; Jupiter bright all month

Jupiter and its four planet-size moons, photographed in March 1998 by Voyager 1. Jupiter and its four planet-size moons, photographed in March 1998 by Voyager 1.

Jupiter and its four planet-size moons, photographed in March 1998 by Voyager 1.

Jupiter and its four planet-size moons, photographed in March 1998 by Voyager 1.

The Moon

The Full Moon of February is known as the “Snow Moon” or the “Hunger Moon.” It rises around sunset on the 14th (6:53 p.m.) and sets around sunrise. This will be the only night in February when the Moon is in the sky all night, and does not appear during the day.

The moon will pass close by the bright star Spica before dawn on Wednesday, Feb. 19. The planet Mars will also be close by.

The moon will be close to the planet Saturn before dawn on Friday, Feb. 21.

The slender crescent moon will be just to the left of Venus at sunrise on Wednesday, Feb. 26.

The planets

Venus is now a “morning star,” rising in the east just before the sun. It reaches a point in its orbit, combined with its phase and distance from Earth, which will cause it to shine at its brightest on the morning of February 15.

Mars continues to brighten in Virgo in the morning sky.

Jupiter shines brightly in the south most of the month. The Great Red Spot is distinctly orange, and easier to see than in many recent years.

The red supergiant star Betelgeuse, which is 650 times bigger than the Sun, is clearly visible on the shoulder of the “Great Hunter” in the Orion constellation.

Saturn is in the eastern sky just before sunrise, in the constellation Libra.

Uranus is low in the western sky after sunset, and sets in mid-evening. It is in Pisces all month.

Skywatching tips

•    Give your eyes at least 15 minutes to adjust to the darkness.
•    Avoid light pollution as much as possible.
•    Dress warmer than you think you need to.
•    Use a sky map so you know where to look.
•    Remember, it’s unsafe to look at the sun without protective eyewear.

Source: www.space.com

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