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Waning moon, Saturn and Antares before dawn February 22

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Tonight for February 21, 2014

Our featured sky chart at the top of this post shows the moon, the planet Saturn and star Antares as they appear from North America before dawn on February 22, 2014. As seen from the world’s Eastern Hemisphere – Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand – the moon will appear farther away from Antares and closer to Saturn on the morning of February 22.

In fact, if you live in Madagascar or the eastern coast of Africa, you can watch the moon occult Saturn this evening (February 21). For example, at Manakara, Madagascar, the moon will occult Saturn from 11:23 p.m. local time on February 21 until 12:12 a.m. local time on February 22. Click here for more information on this occultation.

Antares is the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion. The illuminated side of a waning moon always points in the direction that the moon travels: eastward in front of the backdrop stars. So expect the moon to move closer to the star Antares one day later, on February 23.

In the chart below, we cover a larger area of sky, showing the sky scene for about one hour before sunrise at mid-northern North America latitudes. Sky charts often show the ecliptic – the Earth’s orbital plane projected onto the constellations of the Zodiac – because the moon and planets are always found in this region of sky.

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Whether you live in the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere, watch for the waning moon to get closer and closer to the blazing planet Venus over the next several days. Look for the moon to pass close to Venus on February 25 and February 26. If you live in mid-western Africa, you can actually watch the moon occult – cover over – Venus in the predawn and/or dawn sky on February 26. Click here for more information.

Tomorrow, on February 22, use the moon to locate the planet Saturn and the star Antares as our neighboring world continually goes eastward in front of the backdrop stars of the Zodiac.

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Bottom line: The bright object near the waning moon on the morning of February 22, 2014 is the planet Saturn. The red star Antares is also nearby.