February is one of the best months of the year for stargazing. The 10 days around New Moon—when skies are darkest—are February 4-14 this year, which is the peak time to get outside to see the bright winter constellations such as Orion, Taurus, Gemini and Auriga.
However, this month hosts a few other must-see sky events, from a Jupiter-Venus conjunction to a trio of planets and a sparkling “Snow Moon.”
Here’s what’s coming up in the night sky in February 2021.
1. Venus and Jupiter in conjunction
When: Thursday, February 11, 2021
Just before sunrise in southwestern sky this morning it will be possible to see the two brightest planets—Venus and Jupiter—shining a mere 0.4º from each other. Check the sunrise time where you are and look very low to the southwestern horizon 30 minutes before.
The pairing will occur very close to the horizon and will be visible only for a very short time before the sky brightens.
2. Moon visits Mars and the ‘Seven Sisters’
When: Thursday and Friday, February 18 and 19, 2021
The Pleiades, also known as the “Seven Sisters,” are a classic sight in the winter night sky. This month you can watch the Moon move pass 3.7º from Mars in the evening sky before forming a loose triangle with the Pleiades the following night.
3. A ‘planetary trio’ of Jupiter, Mercury and Saturn
When: Thursday, February 24, 2021
There isn’t another “planetary trio” until April 20, 2026, so do try to see this alignment of Jupiter (lowest), Mercury (above) and dimmer Saturn (top-right) in the pre-dawn sky.
Look low on the eastern horizon just before dawn on February 24 and you’ll see Jupiter lowest with Mercury above, and dimmer Saturn on the right-hand side. The following four mornings offers much the same sight with Jupiter appearing to move closer to Mercury.
Come back on March 5, 2021 to see Jupiter and Mercury in a very close conjunction in the same part of the pre-dawn night sky.
4. A full ‘Hunger Moon’
When: Saturday, February 27, 2021
Ready for another full Moon? Today at 08:18 Universal Time our satellite will be fully illuminated by the Sun. Called variously the “Hunger Moon,” “Storm Moon” and “Snow Moon,” it’s the final full Moon of the astronomical season of winter, which ends on the date of the Spring equinox—March 21, 2021.
Full Moons are always best viewed at moonrise when the gap between the sunset and moonrise times are shortest. From Europe and the east coast of North America that means dusk on February 27 is best, while on the west coast the previous night, February 26, will provide the very best views.
5. Mercury high in the sky
When: Sunday, February 28, 2021
Have you ever gotten a really good look at the tiny planet Mercury? If not then this morning the “Swift Planet” will be at its highest point in the pre-dawn morning sky. Look above the eastern horizon shortly before sunrise, though you may well need binoculars to see it.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.
This article is auto-generated by Algorithm Source: www.forbes.com