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February’s Night Sky

Welcome to the fourth monthly guide to the night sky from the Virtual Astronomy Club, and this month we have some new innovations for you, which I’ll come to shortly.

As usual, there are three observing challenges for you to undertake during February:

  • Challenge #1 is to see the tiny planet Mercury at its greatest elongation
  • Challenge #2 will test your doble star-splitting prowess with 8 examples in the constellation of Orion
  • Challenge #3 is the hardest of the month – discovering a dim star cluster in Cepheus

From a planetary perspective, February is starting to see the sleeping giants of last month begin to stir. The five brightest planets all enjoy some visibility this month (even if not a lot), as Mars, Jupiter and Saturn begin thinking about the spectacular displays they are all due to give later in the year.

The planets pages see the first of our two innovations for the month. Each planet now comes with daily ephemerides showing its location, rise and set times for each day of the month.

The moon is most disruptive to evening astronomy in the first half of the month, but dark nights prevail from mid-month onwards. And that is where the second improvement to the monthly VAC appears. The moon’s brightness guide has been recoded to show when the moon is at its brightest and when it will be the least disruptive to our astronomy.

If there is anything else I could provide to make this club more useful, please email me at Adam@LovetheNightSky.com to let me know.

Also this month, we have:

  • Moon data and brightness impact calendar [The Moon]
  • Planetary data, full screen finder images and observation guides [Planets]
  • Sky charts, both color and inverse monochrome for each hour of the month [Hourly Sky Charts]
  • The main events happening in February [Events]
  • Downloadable PDF calendars [Printables]

Have a fantastic time spying new sights this Feb and, until next month, Clear Skies!

Adam