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Tonight

For those at southerly latitudes, Canopus!

Look for Canopus below Sirius.  You'll see it only if you are far enough south on Earth's globe.  These are the two brightest stars visible from Earth!

Look for Canopus below Sirius. You’ll see it only if you are far enough south on Earth’s globe. These are the two brightest stars visible from Earth!

Here’s a star that northern stargazers rarely see. It’s Canopus, and it’s the second brightest star in the entire sky. You won’t see this star from the northern U.S. or similar latitudes. Northern skywatchers who travel south for the winter – or people in latitudes like those in the southern U.S. – enjoy watching this star. For the southern U.S., Canopus appears below Sirius this month in the southern evening sky.

Moon receding tonight in 2 ways

2016-february-13-moon-aries-hamal

When you see tonight’s moon, you might enjoy knowing it’s in the part of its orbit that’s carrying it away from Earth. What’s more, over the long course of time, the moon’s mean distance from Earth is increasing as well.

Moon and Uranus in Pisces February 12

View larger. | José Luis Ruiz Gómez in Almería, Spain captured Uranus near the moon last month.  He wrote:

View larger. | José Luis Ruiz Gómez in Almería, Spain captured Uranus near the moon last month, on January 15, 2016. He wrote: “Why not try?”

Tonight – February 12, 2016 – the waxing crescent moon and planet Uranus, the seventh planet outward from the sun, float in front of the constellation Pisces the Fishes. Although Uranus will remain within Pisces’ borders for the rest of this year, the moon will leave Pisces after a few more days.

Mercury and Venus close before sunrise

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Technically speaking, Mercury and Venus will not have a conjunction this month. However, these two worlds will be staging a quasi-conjunction over the next several mornings. A quasi-conjunction is said to take place whenever two planets come to within 5o of each other on the sky’s dome, yet do not align north and south of one another.

Star of the week: Sirius is Dog Star and brightest star

The star Sirius and the

The star Sirius and the nearby star cluster M41 caught on January 2, 2016 in Weatherly, Pennsylvania. Photo by Tom Wildoner at LeisurelyScientist.com.

February evenings are a grand time to see the star Sirius in the constellation Canis Major. It’s also fun to spot Sirius as it ascends in the east before dawn on August mornings. Whenever you see Sirius, you’ll recognize it easily because it is our sky’s brightest star.

Blue-white Rigel is at the foot of Orion

Rigel is one of Orion's two brightest stars.  The two are located on either side of a short, straight row of three medium-bright stars - Orion's Belt.

Rigel is one of Orion’s two brightest stars. The two are located on either side of a short, straight row of three medium-bright stars – Orion’s Belt.

Look for the bright star Rigel below Orion’s Belt stars. If this star were as close as our sun, it would outshine the sun by 40,000 times!

Go young moon hunting on February 9

Day by day, watch the waxing crescent moon climb upward, farther away from the setting sun. The green line depicts the ecliptic.

Day by day, watch the waxing crescent moon climb upward, farther away from the setting sun. The green line depicts the ecliptic.

With an unobstructed horizon in the direction of sunset, and a clear sky, you should see the thin crescent in the west an hour (or less) after the sun goes down on Tuesday evening … later after sunset as the days pass.

Orion Nebula where new stars are born

The three stars in a short, straight row represent Orion’s Belt. A curved line of stars hangs from the Belt that represents Orion’s Sword. The Orion Nebula can be seen as a fuzzy object, about midway down in the Sword. Click here to expand image

On some moonless night, look for the Orion Nebula below Orion’s Belt. Your eye sees it as a tiny, hazy spot. But it’s a vast region of star formation.

See 5 bright planets at once

Since late January, and through mid-February, 5 bright planets are visible at once in the predawn sky. This image is from February 8, 2016.  It's by Eliot Herman in Tucson, Arizona.  View on Flickr.

Since late January, and through mid-February, 5 bright planets are visible at once in the predawn sky. This image is from February 8, 2016. It’s by Eliot Herman in Tucson, Arizona.

UPDATE February 8, 2016. The new moon comes to pass on February 8, 2016, at which juncture the moon transitions from the morning to evening sky. Many people around the world witnessed the moon sweeping by all five visible (naked-eye) planets from late January until February 7, 2016. But you still can see all these planets together in the morning sky for at least another week. Read more inside…

Gemini? Here’s your constellation

Image credit: Wikipedia

Is Gemini “your” constellation, and you want to know how to see it in the night sky? This post can help. It offers several ways to find the constellation Gemini, plus gives you some of the sky lore and mythology associated with this constellation. Follow the links inside for mini-lessons on the constellation Gemini.