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Looking Up: A Stargazer’s Guide to February 2017

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Looking Up: A Stargazer’s Guide to February 2017

What’s happening in the sky? We’ve put together a calendar of all the exciting astronomy events for February that you won’t want to miss!

All times are Eastern Standard Time, for the Northern Hemisphere:

February 1 – Look to the southwest after dusk to see the waxing crescent Moon line up with Mars and Venus. As it becomes darker, you’ll begin to see Mars appear between the Moon and Venus.

February 2 – As darkness falls, locate the waxing crescent Moon and follow it down to see Mars, then Venus.

(Continued Below)

February 3 – Midpoint of winter. This is the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.

February 3 – First Quarter Moon, 11:19 pm. In this phase, the Moon looks like a half-Moon in the sky. One-half of the Moon is illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is increasing, on its way to full.

February 7 – The large waxing gibbous Moon will appear inside the very large asterism that we in the Northern Hemisphere call the Winter Circle, sometimes called the Winter Hexagon. The Winter Circle is made up of

February 9 – The large waxing gibbous Moon will be just 4 degrees from the Beehive Cluster, also known as Praesape, and M44.

February 10 – February’s Full Snow Moon at 7:33 p.m. The visible Moon is fully illuminated by direct sunlight. Though the Moon is only technically in this phase for a few seconds, it is considered “full” for the entire day of the event, and appears full for three days.

Learn how February’s full Moon got its many names in this short Farmers’ Almanac video:

February 10 – The Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon – This eclipse favors the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, where the Moon enters the Earth’s outer (penumbral) shadow soon after moonrise. For the rest of the United States and Canada, the eclipse will already be underway as it rises. The Moon will be passing through the southern part of the Earth’s shadow and at maximum its upper limb will come tantalizingly close to the much darker central shadow (the umbra). So at maximum, a subtle, but perceptible dimming will be evident along the Moon’s upper limb. The first vestige of that faint shadow might be glimpsed about a half hour before maximum; perhaps persisting for a half hour or more after maximum.
Moon Enters Penumbra: 5:34 pm
Maximum Eclipse: 7:45 pm
Moon Leaves Penumbra: 9:53 pm
Magnitude of the Eclipse: 0.988

February 11 – Look to the eastern sky as darkness falls to see the waning gibbous Moon near the star Regulus. Regulus is the brightest star in the constellation Leo, the Lion.

February 14 – The waning gibbous Moon, Jupiter and Spica will be visible above the eastern horizon late, after 10 to 11 p.m. local time, but you can also catch the trio before sunrise February 15th. Jupiter shines to the left of the Moon, with Spica below it. Spica is the brightest star in the constellation Virgo.

February 18 – Last Quarter Moon, 2:33 pm. In this phase, the Moon looks like a half-Moon in the sky. One-half of the Moon is illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is decreasing, on its way to the New Moon phase.

February 19 and 20 – Before sunrise, look south to see the waning crescent Moon, Antares and Saturn form a trio. Antares is the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius, the scorpion. Seeing Antares and Scorpius before dawn signals that the shortest days of winter are behind us. On the 20th, The Moon will be about 7 degrees above Saturn.

February 26 –New Moon at 9:58 am. At this stage, the Moon is not illuminated by direct sunlight and is completely invisible to the naked eye.

February 28 – Look to the west at dusk to see the tiny, waxing crescent moon pair up with Venus. Then once night falls, grab your binoculars and try to locate the Mars and Uranus above the pair.

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