Our chart shows the sky as seen from middle latitudes in North America for about 75 minutes after sunset. At mid-northern latitudes in Europe and Asia, the planets will be positioned likewise but the moon will be lower down relative to Uranus, the seventh planet outward from the sun.
First of all, use tonight’s waxing crescent moon to locate the planet Mercury. The bow of the moon points to Mercury’s place near the horizon. If your sky is clear, you should see Mercury fairly easily about 60 to 75 minutes after sunset (in the Northern Hemisphere and at tropical latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere). Use binoculars, and you should be able to catch Mercury all the sooner.
In North America, the moon pairs up very closely with the planet Uranus at nightfall and early evening. In fact, these two worlds will take stage in the same binocular field together. You’ll undoubtedly need binoculars to spot Uranus as a faint star-like object near tonight’s moon. If the moon’s glare proves bothersome, try removing the moon while leaving Uranus in your binocular field of view.
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. By the way, here’s a detailed sky chart, showing Uranus’ place relative to the backdrop stars.
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!
If all goes well, you’ll behold the planets Mercury, Uranus and Jupiter on the evening of February 3!