Click on any planet below to go straight to its section.
The table below shows key data for the planets this month, including rise, transit and set times, as well as magnitude, apparent size and position data (right ascension and declination).
Events that occur when the sun is below the horizon are shown with a black background and white text. All other events happen when the sun is in the sky and other for not visible for observation.
February is a month of transition, following a spectacular (for planets) January. Mercury is briefly visible in mornings at the start of the month, before heading for conjunction. The same is true in evenings for Saturn. Mars is reappearing at dawn after a long time away, while Neptune is leaving the evening sky this month. Venus is steady in the morning, but viewing isn’t great.
Only Jupiter and Uranus put on a good show against a dark backdrop, so enjoy both of those while you can.
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Shortly before sunrise, we can see the smallest planet just above the horizon. It’s only 5 arcseconds wide.
Also at 7am, we can see that Mercury has moved closer to the sun and is not practically visible now.
Mercury will pass behind the sun in just three days, which is why they’re rising together now.
We had some of the best views of Mercury for the whole of 2024 in January. As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and that’s more true of Mercury than any of the other planets because it moves so quickly.
While those of us with clear views of the eastern horizon might just spy it in the dawn sky of the first few days of February, it is, for all practical purposes, not visible to us this month. This speedy little planet reaches superior conjunction – when it passes behind the sun – on the 28th of the month, consequently spending most of February too close to our star for us to see it.
In March, it returns to evening skies where the high-angled ecliptic will afford us some more quality observations of this illusive world.
At 6:30, the sky is relatively dark and we can see bright Venus a handful of degrees above the southeast horizon.
At the same time ten days later, Venus is little changed but Mars is creeping up on it.
The sky is brighter now, and Mars has passed, but Venus is still super-bright at 6:30 in the morning.
Venus seems to adopt a holding pattern this month. It’ll appear to be in almost exactly the same part of the sky at 6:30 in the morning all month long, but careful observation will show Mars first approach, and then move past it. We’ll also be seeing the day lengthening at a quickening pace, with the sky becoming brighter and brighter at that time as the days glide past.
Throughout it all, the size of the Venusian disc doesn’t noticeably alter and neither does its staggering magnitude -4.1 brightness. As it makes it way around the back of the sun, even its fattening disc will be hard to pick out, growing from about 85% to 90% illuminated over the course of the month.
This view is 6:30 in the morning, well before sunrise, and Mars has broken the horizon.
Ten days later at the same time, Mars is twice as high as it was. Dawn’s glow is more obvious though.
This is the 6am view, which beats the dawn but puts the red planet very near the horizon. It only rose ten minutes ago.
Mars will be tricky to see throughout February but slightly easier at its end that its beginning.
At the start of the month, you’ll need a clear view of the horizon to see the tiny red disc just a couple of degrees high an hour before sunrise. At the end of the month, if you’re prepared to try and see it just 40 minutes before sunrise, Mars will be four degrees high.
The biggest challenge we’re facing with seeing mars is the shallow angle of the morning ecliptic. Even as it pulls further away from the sun, it remains low on the horizon before dawn. I’m afraid it’s going to be May before we get some decent dark sky as our backdrop to the Red Planet.
At 7pm, Jupiter is definitely the best planet available to us. It’s 57° high and 37 arcseconds across.
At the same time ten days later, this giant planet is still high in the southwest, with the moon for company.
Moving our clock back half an hour, to hide the lengthening dusk, we can see Jupiter heading west.
February is the last full month of uninterrupted evening observations of Jupiter. Its steady journey towards the sun, coupled with later sunsets, means that we’ll soon lose this giant planet to the daylight.
Before it goes, take advantage of the dark February evenings to see its 38 arcsecond disc with your telescope and see how many of its bands you can make out.
At 6:30 in the evening, Saturn is closing in on the sun and is only 9° over the western horizon.
In the middle of the month, Saturn is only two weeks from passing behind the sun.
In this image, the Ringed Planet is three days from its superior conjunction and not visible to us.
By the end of this month, Saturn will have passed behind the sun and once again become a morning planet. At the start of February, we can glimpse it for a few evenings, already in the glow of dusk. By the middle of the month, only those of us with a clear view of the western horizon will spy it for a short time after sunset. None of us will have the joy of seeing it against a dark background for a few months now.
By the end of March, we’ll be able to see it low in the east but the glow of dawn will interfere with the quality of our seeing.
Uranus is really well-placed for evening observations this month. This is the view at 8pm.
Neptune is lower on the horizon and harder to see because of that. This is the view at 7 p.m.
Look for Uranus midway between the southwest horizon and zenith (overhead) at around 8 p.m. If you choose a moonless night, you should be able to pick out its tiny greenish disc in Aries. Neptune’s magnitude 8 glow is harder to pick out in February. For the best results, try early in the month. Look in Pisces towards the western horizon as soon as the sky is dark.
Use the table below to see when each of the planets is observable for each day this month. Click on it for full screen.
A planet is classed as observable when it is more than 10° above the horizon and the sky is dark enough for it to be observed.