February’s night sky will have many highlights, including Jupiter and Venus hanging closely together, the Full Snow Moon, and your best opportunity to spot the once-in-a-lifetime “Green” Comet.
Have a telescope? Don’t miss Jupiter and its four Galilean moons. After this month, Jupiter won’t be observable again until July 2023. We recommend aiming for February 22, when a new crescent Moon will be very close by!
Plan your stargazing activities this month with our helpful calendar and details below …
Bookmark this page now (Press command+D on your keyboard) so you can easily refer to it over the next few weeks. If you’re interested in locating particular planets in the sky throughout the year, take a look at our visible planets guide here.
February Night Sky Guide
General Monthly Notes – Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, And Mercury
Jupiter and Venus take center stage in the western sky just after sunset. Over the course of the month, watch as they move closer together. By the end of February, they will almost touch!
On February 1, Jupiter is 29 degrees to the upper left of Venus (about the distance of your thumb and pinky finger out outstretched). Their separation is 22 egrees on February 8 and shrinks to 11 degrees on the February 18.
On the evenings of the 21-22 (see below) the crescent Moon joins this dynamic duo. By February 27-28, they will be about one degree apart. (They will get even closer, less than one degree apart, on March 1—stay tuned for our March Night Sky Guide.)
Saturn, meanwhile, shines low in the west-southwest when darkness falls on the 1st. However, the ringed planet is making its last gasp in our evening skies and in just a few days, it’s lost from naked-eye view. It reaches conjunction with the Sun on February 16th and will return as a morning “star” in the first week of March.
In the early morning sky, Mercury is still in view at the beginning of February, roughly eight degrees above the southeastern horizon one half hour before sunrise (for viewers at mid-northern latitudes).
Mercury brightens from magnitude -0.1 to -0.5 over the course of the month, but appears lower each morning. So northern observers will lose sight of it without binoculars during the second week of February. Southern Hemisphere skywatchers can see Mercury better and longer.
February 5 – Full Snow Moon
The Full Snow Moon reaches peak illumination at 1:29 p.m. EST. See what time it will rise in your area here.
February 10 – The “Green” Comet
Comet c/2022 e3 (ZFT) otherwise known as Comet ZTF or the Green Comet may be visible to the unaided eye on this night. Look southwest, near Mars, between 8-10 pm (your local time). See all February dates and locations for the Green Comet here.
February 13 – Last Quarter Moon
The last quarter Moon is at 11:01 a.m. EST. Learn more about the phases of the Moon.
Impress your valentine by calling out Jupiter and Venus in the evening sky! Look west approximately 1-2 hours after sunset. Fun facts: Jupiter is associated with luck and Venus symbolizes beauty—a perfect pairing for Valentine’s Day!
Speaking of Valentine’s Day … have you seen our plant pun valentines?
February 15 – The Great Orion Nebula – “The Star Maker”
Do you have a telescope or a good pair of binoculars? Catch a glimpse of one of the most beautiful objects in the sky: The Great Orion Nebula. Look due south at around 7:30 pm local time. (Wondering what magnification you need? 7 x 35 and 7 x 50 are sufficient, but of course, the bigger the binoculars, the better the view!)
Locate Orion’s Belt (three stars in a row). Beneath the middle star, there is a smaller row of vertical stars: Orion’s sword. The Orion Nebula is a bright green-gray cloud located in the middle of these stars.
In larger telescopes, it appears as a great glowing irregular cloud. A sort of auroral glow is induced in this nebula by fluorescence from the strong ultraviolet radiation of four hot stars entangled within it.
Astrophysicists believe that The Great Orion Nebula is a stellar incubator—the primeval chaos from which star formation is presently underway.
The Orion Nebula has a mass of about 2,000 times the Sun, is 1,340 light years away, and about 24 light years across (or more than 16,000 times the diameter of the entire Solar System).
See more images of the Orion Nebula at Nasa.gov.
February 20 – New Moon “Star View” – Aldebaran And Mars
The New Moon occurs at 2:06 a.m. EST. New Moons are great times for stargazing because the light of the Moon does not interfere.
On this night, we recommend looking south at approximately 8 pm to see two orange luminaries high in the sky. One of these Is Aldebaran, the “Bull’s Eye” (a bright star in Taurus). The other noticeable “star” is Mars, hanging above Aldebaran and to the left (east). Fun Fact: Aldebaran and Mars are ancient rivals. Mars is brighter now, but Aldebaran will take the lead as the brightest “red” star in the sky at the end of March.
February 21-22 – The Crescent Moon, Venus, and Jupiter
On February 21, approximately one hour after sunset, look west-southwest to see a beautiful crescent Moon on the horizon. Hovering seven degrees (less than the width of your fist) above it is brilliant Venus. Keep gazing up and to the left (about the same distance) to find Jupiter.
On February 22, a slightly wider crescent Moon sits less than a couple of degrees to the lower left of Jupiter in the evening sky. The big planet comes into view at dusk in the southwest sky.
It dims slightly in February, to magnitude -2.1, and its apparent diameter dwindles just a bit. Yet there is still time (but not much) to catch its four Galilean satellites through a telescope.
This is the last month until July when Jupiter will be high enough for good telescopic observations. From February 5-18, Jupiter leaves Pisces (the Fishes) for a brief journey through the northwest corner of Cetus (the Whale).
Jupiter sets around 9:40 p.m. as February opens but around 8:20 p.m. as the month ends.
February 27 – First Quarter Moon And Mars
The first quarter Moon is at 3:06 a.m. EST.
At 7 p.m. local time (no matter what time zone you are in) take note of Mars about two degrees (less than two pinky fingertips) to the left of the Moon.
Although commonly called the “red” planet, Mars actually appears to be yellow-orange in color. Fading from magnitude -0.2 to +0.4 this month, Mars is waning as it loses half of its apparent brightness while its distance from the Earth increases from 82 to 106 million miles.
Fun fact: During a global dust storm the color becomes a lighter yellow. This is perhaps the only way a naked-eye observer may see signs of the weather on another planet.
Did you know that you can use the size of your hand to judge distances between objects in space? See our illustration below:
Magnitudes refer to the brightness of an object in space. The lower the number, the more dazzling it is. Bright stars are 1 or 0 magnitude. Fainter ones are 5 or 6. Super bright stars are in negative numbers. For instance, Sirius is magnitude -1.4. (For reference, the full Moon is -12.7 and the Sun is -26.7.)
All times and positions are listed in Eastern Standard Time, 40 degrees north of the equator.
If the time is designated as “local,” it is true for every time zone (no adding or subtracting hours is necessary). Any mentions of sunset, midnight, and sunrise are true for every time zone in the United States.
Join The Discussion!
What are you excited about in this February night sky?
Have you seen the Green Comet?
Let us know in the comments below!