Astronomy Essentials

Visible planets and night sky for February

February 24 and 25 evenings: Moon near Regulus and Leo

The crest of the full Snow Moon happened earlier this morning by clocks in the Americas. It is the smallest full moon of 2024, sometimes called a micromoon. The bright star glowing in the moon’s glare tonight and tomorrow night is Regulus, Heart of Leo the Lion. Tonight, the moon will have moved on in its orbit, and will appear eastward of Regulus on the sky’s dome. They’ll be visible all night.

White dots for moon, Regulus and part of Leo on February 24 and 25.
Chart via EarthSky.

Our charts are mostly set for the northern half of Earth. To see a precise view – and time – from your location, try Stellarium Online.

February 24, all night: Full Snow Moon

The instant of full moon – often called the Snow Moon – fell at 12:30 UTC (6:30 a.m. CST) on February 24, 2024. But, of course, every full moon rises into your local sky around sunset … and sets around sunrise. This February full moon is the smallest – most distant – full moon in 2024 at 252,225 miles (405,917 kilometers) away.

Moon at apogee February 25

The moon will reach apogee – its farthest distance from Earth in its elliptical orbit around Earth – at 15 UTC (9 a.m. CST) on February 25, 2024, when it’s 252,470 miles (406,312 kilometers) away.

February 17-25 mornings: Venus and Mars pair up

Here’s something worth getting up to see! Bright Venus pairs up with much-dimmer Mars from February 17 to 25, 2024. Mars is just now returning to our early morning sky after being behind the sun from Earth. It’ll be rising higher each morning, and it’ll pass brighter Venus, which is descending into the sunrise glare. So it’s a very bright object near a faint one! Fun to see. Mars and Venus will be closest to each other around February 21 and 22.

What dot for Mars passing a starlike dot for Venus in February.
Chart via EarthSky.

To enhance your view of Venus and Mars, use binoculars.

Red dot for Mars passing white starlike dot for Venus in binoculars.
Chart via EarthSky.

EarthSky Minute: Two morning planets

Solar eclipse countdown!

A total solar eclipse will cross North America on April 8, 2024. February 24, 2024, is 44 days until eclipse day. All solar eclipses belong to a saros cycle. The total solar eclipse of April 8 belongs to Saros 139. Join Deborah Byrd as she explains what that means.

EarthSky Minute: February moon phases

February 25 and 26 mornings: Moon near Regulus and Leo

On the mornings of February 25 and 26, 2024, the waning gibbous moon will lie near Regulus, the bright star marking the bottom of the backward question mark asterism called the Sickle. Regulus is the brightest star in Leo the Lion. They’ll rise the night before and be opposite the sun in the morning sky.

White dots for moon, Regulus and Leo on February 25 and 26.
Chart via EarthSky.

February 26 – March 11: Zodiacal light

The zodiacal light may be visible after evening twilight for Northern Hemisphere observers for the next two weeks. Southern Hemisphere observers? Look for it before morning twilight begins.

February 28: Mercury moves behind the sun

Mercury will move behind the sun on February 28. This point in its orbit is called superior conjunction. It will return to our evening sky in mid-March.

Chart showing Mercury in its orbit behind the sun from Earth on February 28.
Chart via EarthSky.

Our charts are mostly set for the northern half of Earth. To see a precise view – and time – from your location, try Stellarium Online.

February 28 and 29 mornings: Moon near Spica

On the mornings of February 28 and 29, 2024, the waning gibbous moon will hang near the bright star Spica in Virgo the Maiden.

White dots for moon and Spica on February 28 and 29.
Chart via EarthSky.

Visible planets in February 2024

Mid-February mornings: Venus and Mars

In the middle of February, Mars will move close to brilliant Venus. They’ll be an interesting contrast in brightness, with Venus shining at magnitude -3.9 and Mars shining at +1.3. So Venus is roughly 100 times brighter than Mars. They will be at their closest on February 21 and 22, 2024. Then Venus will continue to descend closer to the sunrise each day, while Mars climbs out of the morning twilight.

Dots and arrows for Venus and Mars and Venus in mid February.
Chart via EarthSky.

Late February mornings: Venus and Mars

By the end of February, Venus will slowly be approaching the horizon before disappearing from the morning sky in March. And Mars will be climbing higher each day away from brilliant Venus. Mars remains a morning object through all of 2024.

Dots and arrows for Mars and Venus in late February.
Chart via EarthSky.

February evenings: Jupiter

Bright Jupiter will draw your attention until around midnight in February 2024. It will be obvious high in the sky at sunset and will be visible until around midnight. It will shine near the pretty Pleiades star cluster in the constellation Taurus the Bull. Jupiter reached perihelion – or closest point to Earth – in early November. And it reached opposition overnight on November 2-3, 2023, when we flew between it and the sun. So, as Jupiter recedes from Earth, it’ll fade a bit in our sky. It will lie in the dim constellation Aries the Ram, and it’ll shine at -2.2 magnitude by month’s end. The 1st quarter moon will float by Jupiter on February 15, 2024.

White dots for Jupiter, Pleiades and Aries in February.
Chart via EarthSky.

Where’s Saturn?

Saturn will be in conjunction with the sun on February 28, 2024. It’ll emerge in the morning sky after mid-March.

White dot for Saturn in February.
Chart via EarthSky.

Thank you to all who submit images to EarthSky Community Photos! View community photos here. We love you all. Submit your photo here.

Looking for a dark sky? Check out EarthSky’s Best Places to Stargaze.

Sky dome maps for visible planets and night sky

The sky dome maps come from master astronomy chart-maker Guy Ottewell. You’ll find charts like these for every month of 2024 in his Astronomical Calendar.

Guy Ottewell explains sky dome maps

Circle constellations, planets, the moon, the Milky Way and celestial lines.
Here is the sky dome view for February 2024. It shows what is above the horizon at mid-evening for mid-northern latitudes. The view may vary depending on your location. Image via Guy Ottewell’s 2024 Astronomical Calendar. Used with permission.

Heliocentric solar system visible planets and more

The sun-centered charts come from Guy Ottewell. You’ll find charts like these for every month of 2024 in his Astronomical Calendar.

Guy Ottewell explains heliocentric charts.

Circle with sun at center, planets around, and zodiac names on outer edge.
Heliocentric view of solar system, February 2024. Chart via Guy Ottewell’s 2024 Astronomical Calendar. Used with permission.

Some resources to enjoy

For more videos of great night sky events, visit EarthSky’s YouTube page.

Watch EarthSky’s video about Two Great Solar Eclipses Coming Up

Don’t miss anything. Subscribe to daily emails from EarthSky. It’s free!

Visit EarthSky’s Best Places to Stargaze to find a dark-sky location near you.

Post your own night sky photos at EarthSky Community Photos.

Translate Universal Time (UTC) to your time.

See the indispensable Observer’s Handbook, from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Visit Stellarium-Web.org for precise views from your location.

Almanac: Bright visible planets (rise and set times for your location).

Visit TheSkyLive for precise views from your location.

Illustration of mythological constellations in the sky.
Attention amateur astronomers! Guy Ottewell’s popular and informative Astronomical Calendar for 2024 is available in both electronic and printed versions.

Bottom line: Visible planets in February. We’re 44 days from eclipse day! See the smallest full moon of the year near the star Regulus, the brightest star in Leo the Lion. They’ll be visible through dawn.

Posted 
February 24, 2024
 in 
Astronomy Essentials

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