February, Night sky, Star, 2021, Moon, Month Planets, Moon, and Stars—Highlights for February, 2021: A Search the Sky Activity
Mercury is in front of the sun. Venus jupiter and saturn are behind the sun. There’S one planet that’s been looking good in the sky for months and it’s still a treat to see and that’s mars we’re using the computer program stellarium to display the february evening sky and we’re looking between south and west. There are three mars like objects. This one is actually a star it’s part of the familiar group called orion over here is aldebaran and farthest to the west is mars. Now we’ve chosen the 18th of february for two reasons. One is that on that day, the moon will be right next to mars. So if you’re confused about which one of these is mars, the moon will guide you on february 18th, when we use a computer simulation to squeeze a huge stretch of sky onto the screen. It’S, not big enough to show the shape that the moon appears to be. But if we zoom in we see that the moon appears as a fat crescent near the planet mars. I also see that the pleiades, a beautiful star cluster, is in that neighborhood. You should look for the pleiades near mars in february, but maybe not on the 18th, because when the bright moon is nearby it’s hard to make out the fainter stars of the pleiades there’s. One other reason that i’ve chosen february 18th for looking at mars and that’s, because earlier that day a spacecraft will have landed on mars.
The mission is called mars 2020 and the lander will be a rover called perseverance. This is an illustration of the rover being lowered. After a successful entry into the martian atmosphere at the time of recording this, it hasn’t happened yet, but it will be excellent if it all works according to plan. Perseverance is much like another rover called curiosity, that’s been exploring mars since 2012.. Perseverance has some extras and we’ll have more news about that: another time we’re facing south now, looking at a huge stretch of sky from the east, all the way to the west, here’s, the moon and mars again and in the south there’s the winter oval. If you haven’t seen the winter oval yet this winter look south for orion with the two arm stars the two leg stars and what people notice most the three stars of orion’s belt. One of orion’s legs is a star called rigel and going around the oval. We come to aldebaran the orange one that looks a little bit like mars, going up there’s capella coming around the oval. We come to pollux, which is the brighter star in the pair of stars, castor and pollux, come on down to prusaon round two sirius, the brightest star of the nighttime sky and then back to rigel the winter oval to the east of the winter. Oval is leo. Let’S shift our view and get a better look at leo. Leo is like a question mark in the sky, but backward the bright star.
Regulus is at the bottom of the question mark this star at the top of the question mark isn’t as bright as other stars. So when i look at leo from a city sky, sometimes i can’t see this star and i have to imagine the full question mark you can imagine. This is the head of a lion and this triangle that follows the question. Mark could be the back end of the lion now leo’s been up in the evening sky, the late evening sky for some time now, but it’s in february that these stars become visible as it gets dark in the evening. We’Ve zoomed out and we’ve changed the day to the 26th of february, and on that day i can see that the full moon will be near the question mark in leo. The moon will be rising around sunset and it will be bright all night long, which is the nature of full moons. Looking farther to the north of leo, i can see the seven stars of the big dipper now like leo. The big dipper has one star that’s, not as bright, so unless it’s really dark and clear, you might not see that star in this shape, that’s like a cup with a long handle where i live in california, the big dipper is up in the sky. All the time, but in december and january it’s skimming the horizon and that’s, not the best way to see it february is the month that it returns as an easy group of stars to spot in the evening sky now, we’re looking west toward the great square of Pegasus which you can find in february, but not too late, because stars in the west are going down as the evening goes by and also stars in the west are getting lower in the sky as the year goes by so february.
Is our last chance to see pegasus in the evening before it gets lost in the glow of sunset? The west is also the direction you’ll look to find the young crescent moon, which appears in the sky a couple days after the time of new moon, which this year is february 11th. The spots here show the position of the crescent moon in the evening sky. After sunset, but we’ve enlarged the moon, so you can see the shape you’ll expect to find on the 13th it’s. A very slim crescent, very low and that’ll be a fun challenge to look for as the days go by. It gets a little fatter and a little higher in the sky and easier to see so here’s. What we’ll be looking for in the february evening, sky, leo and ursa major return to the evening sky in february, but february, will be your last chance to see pegasus in the evening sky for a while, oh find the young crescent moon on the 13th, 14th or 15Th, the full moon will be in leo on the 26th check out mars and you’ll, see the moon next to mars on the 18th and orion, and the stars of the winter circle will be in the southern sky all of february in the evening, the winter circle.