Star Calendar Planets:
Moon is innocuously Full at a safe distance, but will be New only a few hours from perigee.
Mercury makes a feeble morning apparition this month and may be seen with the aid of the Moon on the 17th. Subsequent mornings will find Mercury by itself low in the ESE, somewhat below and to the right of brighter Altair.
Venus had a subtle meeting with Mercury last month. This month, chaperoned by the Moon, she meets very publicly with Mars on the equinoctial point on the 20th-21st.
Sun gives us noticeably longer days over the course of this month – by the end of February the sky is light 12 hours a day if one includes the bright sky of civil twilight. According to the Sun’s progress through the zodiac we are halfway to equinox on the 2nd, “Groundhog Day”, but according to the culminating height of the Sun, or, of the change in the length of daylight, the midpoint is on the 18th.
Mars meets the brilliant Venus this month, as mentioned above, and appears a little lower each evening. Mars is nevertheless progressing leftwards though, and crosses the vernal equinox point – staying above the equator now until November.
Jupiter is in opposition on the 6th. On the night of the 3rd – 4th the Full Moon will be nearby.
Saturn is more toward the south now at a reasonable pre-dawn hour. The Moon will be near on the 12th and 13th.
Comet Lovejoy has been a delight to watch as it passed the Pleiades in late January. Once found with binoculars it was easily discernible without them. February 5th, 6th, before the gibbous Moon rises, may afford a last glimpse before it fades away. Look in the evening, West, above the diamond of Pegasus and to the left of the “W” of Cassiopeia.
Star Calendar Days:
1 Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 7:07/17:13 EST (10h6m daylight)
2 Cross quarter Spring, midway from solstice to equinox
3 Full Snow Moon at 6:09PM
3-4 Moon and Jupiter are near each other all night
4-5 Moon near Regulus
6 Jupiter in opposition, brightest and up all night
11 Mercury stationary to direct motion
13 Moon culminates to left of Saturn in S at 6:AM
17 Moon left of Mercury in ESE between 5:45-6:AM
18 Sun midway to celestial equator by declination
18-19 Moon New and perigee
19 Chinese New Year
20 Moon, Mars and Venus together in W 6:-7:30PM
21 Mars and Venus very close in evening
Mars crosses to north of celestial equator
24 Mercury at widest angle from Sun for this appearance, 27 degrees
25 Moon nearly grazes Aldebaran high in SSW at 7:PM
28 Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 6:32/17:46 EST (11h14m daylight)