Venus-Mars conjunction, ‘Snow Moon’ and ‘Da Vinci’s Glow’: February’s night sky

Venus-Mars conjunction, 'Snow Moon' and 'Da Vinci's Glow': February's night sky

Clear skies permitting, February 2024 should be an excellent month for stargazers. It may be cold outside in the Northern Hemisphere, but stunning celestial views include a rare Venus-Mars conjunction, a well-placed Orion Nebula, and a full “snow moon” rising.

Here are the sky watching highlights for February 2023:

1. Dark sky

When: February 2-12

Where: the whole sky

The new Snow Moon on February 9 defines the “dark sky window.” The last quarter moon on February 2 (which rises after midnight) to an early crescent on February 12 creates 10 moonlight-free nights, perfect for stargazing.

2. The smaller moon

When: After sunset on Sunday, February 11

Where: West

You can be among the first to see the smaller, thinner crescent moon this month, but it won’t be easy. The slender crescent with 6% luminosity will be visible in the southwestern sky just after sunset, but will sink shortly after. You’ll need a low western horizon and binoculars to scan the still-bright twilight sky to find it.

3. “Da Vinci Glow” and Jupiter

When: After sunset on Sunday, February 12, until Wednesday, February 14

Where: Southwest

Look to the southwest after sunset on these three evenings; If the sky is clear, you will see a crescent moon climbing a little higher each night. Look for “Earthshine” on the dark side of the crescent – sunlight reflected from ice caps on Earth and clouds on the Moon’s surface. On Wednesday, you will see Jupiter above the crescent moon.

4. Orion Nebula

When: Anytime after dark

Where: South

Go look for Orion’s Belt in the south after dark, it’s easy! Look below it, preferably with binoculars or a small telescope, and you’ll see a mysterious patch called the Orion Nebula (M42). The newborn star nursery can be seen with the naked eye and is exceptionally bright if you just look to its side. It is about 1,300 light years away from us.

5. The Seven Sisters meet the moon

When: Anytime after dark on Friday, February 16

Where: South

Look south to see the half-lit moon appearing very close to the open Pleiades cluster, also called the Seven Sisters and M45. The Pleiades are located on the outskirts of the Taurus constellation and can be seen with the naked eye. It contains seven main bright stars: Alcyone, Atlas, Electra, Maia, Merope, Taygeta, and Pleion. Tonight, the moon will appear near the bright star Alcyone. They are each about 100 million years old, which is very young compared to most stars. It is surrounded by a cloud of gas and dust illuminated by starlight.

6. Conjunction of Venus and Mars

When: Before sunrise on Thursday, February 22

Where: Southeast

Bright Venus will be adjacent to Mars this morning, just 0.6 degrees separating the two planets closest to Earth. Use binoculars to find Mars near Venus, which will be easy to find with just your eyes.

7. “Little Snow Moon”

Time: Moonrise (dusk) on Saturday, February 24

Where: East

The second full moon of 2024 and the third of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the “Snow Moon” — also known as the “Hungry Moon” and “Storm Moon” — will be the furthest from Earth in 2024 (aphelion). Therefore, it will be smaller, which is the opposite of a “supermoon.”

Specific times and dates apply to mid-northern latitudes. For more accurate site-specific information, consult online planetariums such as Stellarium And Sky Live. Checks Planet rising/planet set, sunset Sunrise And Moonrise/moonset Times where you are.

I’m a night sky expert and book author Stargazing in 2024: 50 easy things to see in the night sky from North America. For the latest sky and total solar eclipse events, please subscribe or Check out my main feed Regularly receive new articles.

I wish you clear skies and wide eyes.

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