The visual moon guide has been improved to include the major phases of the moon and alter shading to make it clearer that the night sky is not as disrupted when the moon is in its crescent phases as it is when gibbous or full.
We hit this lunar cycle’s first quarter on the first day of the month, you can see what that looks like at the bottom of this page.
Whilst that’s a great time for hunting members of the Lunar 100, it also marks the start of the more disruptive period of lunar light. The moon is in its waxing gibbous phase for the first week of the month and hits full on the night of the 9th/10th of Feb. By the night of the 15th, moonrise is after midnight and dark evenings remain in place until the last week of the month.
Last quarter is visible in the early morning of the 16th, and the moon leaves the night sky in its entirety as it heads towards new on the night of the 23rd. In the closing days of the month the waxing crescent moon once more appears after the sun sets, but it too sinks below the horizon before midnight.
If you are planning a deep sky object hunt this month, evenings are best from the 13th thru 25th, mornings on the 01st/02nd and then 19th thru 29th, and the whole night is practically moonless between the 18th and 25th of Feb.
Whether you are planning to observe the moon, or you want to make sure to avoid it, use the table below to discover when the moon will be above the horizon in February. The ‘Illumination’ column shows how bright it is going to be – the higher the %, the brighter the moon.
The following chart shows a visualisation of when the moon is above the horizon and below. This should make it easier for you to plan which nights offer the darkest skies and which provide the best opportunity for observing the moon itself.
The two pictures below from SkySafari 6 show the first quarter moon at 8pm on February 01st and the last quarter moon at 5am on 15th February. Click on the pictures for full screen versions.