Astronomy Events – February 2014

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by yaska77

Well January seems to have passed in a flash! Unfortunately the much reported terrible weather we’ve had in Britain has meant we’ve been afforded no chance whatsoever to get any astronomy done, and have had to content ourselves with a triple dose of Stargazing LIVE and images sent to us on Twitter.

There are quite a few events in February that we’d like a close look at however, so we’re praying for some dry weather and clear skies to enable us to get back outdoors and reacquaint ourselves with the beauty of the heavens!

Below we’ve noted some astronomical points of interest for you to pick through, so get outside and keep watching the skies!

Saturday 1st February – Jovian moon Ganymede transits the disc of Jupiter this evening, which should provide a great sight through a telescope

Beginning around 19:00 UTC it will exit the planet’s limb around 22:10 UTC

Through a telescope Ganymede will be clearly visible crossing the disc of Jupiter, shown at 21:00 UTC (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Through a telescope Ganymede will be clearly visible crossing the disc of Jupiter, shown above at 21:00 UTC on 1st February 2014 (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

And as a second treat the shadow of Ganymede will then appear on the surface of Jupiter just as the moon itself moves off the disc

Sunday 2nd February – If you have good binoculars or a telescope and look due south at 21:30 this evening (just to the left of Betelgeuse the bright orange star at the top left of Orion) you’ll find the Rosette Nebula and open cluster NGC 2244

We’ve managed to image this faint but beautiful object only once before, so should conditions prove favourable (especially with the Moon setting earlier in the evening affording darker skies) we’re hoping to give it another go to try attain even more clarity to the dark dust lanes you can see in our image below

The stars of the open cluster shine brightly, surrounded by the gas and dust that make up the Rosette Nebula (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
The stars of the open cluster NGC 2244 shine brightly, surrounded by the gas and dust that make up the Rosette Nebula, taken in early 2012 (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Thursday 6th February – This evenings Moon can be seen at First Quarter phase

Wednesday 12th February – Today the Moon is at Apogee at a distance of 406,230 km (252,420 miles) the furthest point out in its orbit around the Earth

Friday 14th February – The Full Moon in the sky tonight is also sometimes known as the Trapper’s Moon, Budding Moon or Storm Moon

And continuing our recent addition to this guide, below we’ve provided constellation guides for Southern and Northern skies in February!

Shown at 00:00 UTC on 15th February, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking south (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Shown at 00:00 UTC on 15th February, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking south (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in February (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in February (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Saturday 15th February – Hot planet Mercury is in Inferior Conjunction today (and will be unobservable until later in the month when it will become visible as a morning object) and Venus attains greatest brilliancy at mag -4.7 and will appear in a crescent phase if viewed through a telescope

Wednesday 19th February – This evening the waning gibbous Moon passes just 4° south of Mars, and forms a neat triangle with the star Spica which is part of the constellation Virgo

Rising around 22:30 UTC our guide image above shows its location in the sky at 01:00 UTC on 20th February (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Rising around 22:30 UTC our guide image above shows the location of Mars and the Moon in the sky at 01:00 UTC on 20th February (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Saturday 22nd February – Tonight the Moon is at Last Quarter phase

Sunday 23rd February – Planet Neptune is in Conjunction with the Sun today and is unobservable throughout February

Wednesday 26th FebruaryVenus and the crescent Moon traverse the predawn sky as close companions when they rise around 05:00 UTC this morning, and should look great if you can get an image through a telescope!  We’ll certainly be trying to get some photos!

The crescent Moon and bright planet Venus will provide a great target for some photography this morning, if the weather will behave! (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
The crescent Moon and bright planet Venus will provide a great target for some photography this morning, if the weather will behave! (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Thursday 27th February – The Moon is at Perigee today at a distance of 360,440 km (223,967 miles), the closest point of its orbit to the Earth

As usual, if you take any photos throughout February you’d like to show us, please tweet them to us using the link below! We’d love to see your efforts!

Planets visible this month:

Jupiter
Venus
Uranus
Mars
Mercury
Saturn

Remember, it can take your eyes up to 20 minutes to become properly dark adapted, and anything up to an hour for a telescope to reach ambient temperature outside (to ensure the best image), so give yourself plenty of time to get set up!

To make it easier to find this list of astronomical happenings you can also locate it in the “Monthly Guide” section in the menu bar to the right. Handy! 🙂

Guide images created with Stellarium

Archive:
Astronomy Events – January 2014
Astronomy Events – December 2013
Astronomy Events – November 2013

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