Use the waxing crescent moon tonight – February 3, 2014 – to locate the planet Mercury. The bow of the moon points to Mercury’s place near the horizon after sunset. If your sky is clear – and if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere or at tropical latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere – you should see Mercury fairly easily about 60 to 75 minutes after sunset. Use binoculars to scan in the sunset direction shortly after the sun goes down, and you should be able to catch Mercury all the sooner.
As seen from North America on February 3, the moon pairs up very closely with the planet Uranus at nightfall and early evening. In fact, these two worlds will be in the same binocular field. You’ll certainly need binoculars to spot Uranus as a faint star-like object near tonight’s moon, if you can spot it at all. If the moon’s glare proves too bothersome, try edging the moon to one side, while leaving Uranus in your binocular field. And, if just you can’t spot Uranus, don’t feel alone. This is a tough observation. You can at least imagine Uranus in the moon’s direction tonight.
Uranus will be closely paired with a faint star called HIP 2954. You should be able to distinguish Uranus from this star because Uranus is higher up and the brighter of these two star-like objects.
If Mercury and Uranus elude you this evening, there’s a super-bright planet that’ll be hard to miss in the eastern sky. In fact, it’s easily the most brilliant star-like object to adorn the February evening sky. That’s Jupiter, the king of the planets!
Bottom line: Although it’ll be tough to glimpse Uranus, you can at least imagine it in the moon’s direction on the night of February 3, 2014. And you might spot Uranus with binoculars. Also, the February 3 moon can help you find the planet Mercury.