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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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…
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.