Monday, January 28, 2013

Sky Events February 2013

Moon Phases

Sun., February 3, 10:56 a.m. EST

Last Quarter Moon

The last or third quarter moon rises around 1 a.m. and sets around 11 a.m. It is most easily seen just after sunrise in the southern sky.

Sun., February 10, 2:20 a.m. EST

New Moon

The moon is not visible on the date of new moon because it is too close to the sun, but can be seen low in the east as a narrow crescent a morning or two before, just before sunrise. It is visible low in the west an evening or two after new moon.

Sun., February 17, 3:31 p.m. EST

First Quarter Moon

The first quarter moon rises around 11 a.m. and sets around 2 a.m. It dominates the evening sky

Mon., February 25, 3:26 p.m. EST

Full Moon

The full moon of February is called the Snow Moon. Its Cree name is Cepizun, meaning “old moon.” Other names are Hunger Moon, Storm Moon and Candles Moon. In Hindi it is known as Magh Poornima. Its Sinhala (Buddhist) name is Navam. The full moon rises around sunset and sets around sunrise, the only night in the month when the moon is in the sky all night long. The rest of the month, the moon spends at least some time in the daytime sky.

Observing Highlights

Fri., February 1, 9 p.m. EST

Spica north of the moon

The moon will be close to the bright star Spica. Observers in southern Africa and eastern Australia will see the moon occult Spica.

Fri., February 8, 4 p.m. EST

Mercury north of Mars

The two planets Mercury and Mars will be in a close conjunction. Since both are close to the sun, this will be difficult to observe, as there is only a narrow window between when the sky gets dark enough after sunset and when the two planets are high enough above the horizon to still be visible. Binoculars or a telescope recommended

Sat., February 16, evening twilight

Mercury at greatest elongation east

This is the best opportunity this year for observers in the Northern Hemisphere to observe Mercury in the evening sky. Sweep the western horizon with binoculars to pick up Mercury’s tiny speck of light.

Mon., February 18, early evening

Jupiter and the Moon

Another close conjunction between Jupiter and the Moon, flanked by Aldebaran and the Hyades to the left and the Pleiades to the right. The Moon will actually pass in front of Jupiter for viewers in the southern Indian Ocean. Southern Australia and Tasmania. Shown here is the view from Melbourne, Australia.

Mon., February 18, early evening

Vesta and the Moon

The moon will pass just south of the bright asteroid Vesta, making it easier to locate than usual. The moon will occult Vesta as seen from central South America and much of western and southern Africa.


Mercury will be well placed in the western  sky for most of the month, the best opportunity to see it as an “evening star” in 2013.

Venus is now very low in the southeast at sunrise, heading towards superior conjunction with the sun on March 28.

Mars has faded into the west moving behind the sun. It rapidly crosses the entire constellation of Aquarius this month. Mars passes just south of Neptune on February 4, but Neptune will probably be too dim to see in evening twilight.

Jupiter remains in Taurus, close to Aldebaran and the Hyades. It is high in the southern sky in the early evening and sets in the northwest around 2 a.m.

Saturn is spends the month in western Libra. It rises in the east at around midnight, and is visible the rest of the night.

Uranus is visible in Pisces in the early evening and sets around 9 p.m.

Neptune is in Aquarius all month, becoming lost in the twilight close to the sun. It is in conjunction with the sun on February 21.

Geoff Gaherty
Starry Night Software Support
All graphics © 2013 Starry Night Software

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