F E B R U A RY S K Y W A T C H
by Maya del Mar
The gas giants Jupiter and Saturn are spectacular this month, particularly as viewed through a small telescope.
SATURN CROSSES THE NIGHT SKY FOR THE ENTIRE LONG WINTER NIGHT.
Saturn rises first, during the afternoon, and by 8 p.m. it is overhead. It appears bright gold, a bit above the constellation Orion and to the east of the bright star Aldebaran. This month it does not appear to move, but after February 22, when it turns direct, watch it night by night move slowly eastward.
Through a telescope, you can have an excellent view of Saturns ring system. This year and next will provide us the best views of Saturns rings for another 30 years.
The waxing moon will be close to Saturn on the night of February 11.
BRIGHT JUPITER IS OPPOSED BY SUN.
On February 2, Jupiter opposes Sun. It will rise in the East while Sun sets in the west, just like the full moon does. This might be called the "Full Jupiter," only it occurs once a year instead of once each month. As with full moon, its a time of excitement and new awareness.
This opposition is at the time of New Moon. Thus emotional Moon joins the party to raise the level of the tides of enthusiasm. Although most of us cant see it, Neptune is also a guest at the party, as it too conjoins the setting Sun. Jupiter makes big promises, and this New Moon is pregnant with anticipation.
Jupiter has four big moons which are often visible with binoculars. Jupiter has only a ten-hour rotation period. This fast movement means that its moons are continually changing position in relation to one another. This is a good time to watch the moons eclipse one another because, for the first time in six years, Earth lies in the orbital plane of the moons.
On February 15 Moon is very close to its full phase. Watch it rise just after Jupiter. This will be a rare and spectacular sight. It will instill inspiration and visions of success for the people, just in time for thousands of peace marches throughout the world.
Mars, Venus, and Mercury are morning planets.
Mars rises about 3 a.m. in early February, and is very close to the reddish star Antares, also a warrior energy. Mars is very faint now. However, by summer it becomes very bright. As the month progresses, watch Mars move eastward, away from Antares. Moon is close to Mars on February 24-25.
Venus rises an hour after Mars, and is brilliant in the early morning sky. She can be seen with Moon on February 27.
If you can catch a planet shining close to the horizon in the pre-dawn twilight, it is elusive Mercury. By the end of the month, Mercury gets lost in the Suns dawnlight.
Again, we can see all five of the visible planets this month. Long nights do help to increase visibility time.