Thursday, February 1, 2018

Look At The Sky: February

The Planets for FEBRUARY 2018:
HERE IT IS!  Maybe the ONLY time in your life that you can say that you have experience ALL  of the main objects in the SOLAR SYSTEM being 'visible' (as in, "in the sky") for you at one time.  From ASO calculations for mid-northern latitudes, at about 10 a.m. on February 14 of this year EVERY object in our solar system will be in the sky at the same time.  Starting EAST to WEST we have:
Earth (you will be standing on it!), Uranus, Neptune, Venus, the Sun, Mercury, Moon, Pluto, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter stretched across our skies.  Of course at 10 a.m. because of sunlight you will not be able to actually SEE all of these, but look up and imagine this string of mighty worlds stretched in front of you like a celestial rope from the eastern horizon to the west.

Mercury - Mercury is unfavorably placed in the sky and is in very strong twilight all month - in CAPRICORNUS

Venus - our brightest planet will not be away from solar glare throughout the month of Feb. 2018  - in AQUARIUS.

Mars - Our Red Planet rises about 2:30 a.m. local time and will be high enough for telescopic observations around daybreak; Mars is slowly getting closer to Earth and growing in baby steps in size as it approaches for a very favorable opposition in late 2018 - in OPHIUCHUS

Jupiter - Now rising in the EAST about an hour ahead of reddish MARS, the largest of all planets will be high in eastern skies by dawn local time; although gaining apparent size as it gets slowly closer to Earth, Jupiter in Feb. is still very small (37") compared to what it can size up to at maximum - in LIBRA

Saturn - Very low in eastern skies and rising about 3:30 a.m. local time, the ringed planet will make its yearly debut in predawn skies by midmonth - in OPHIUCHUS/Sagittarius

Uranus - distant planet Uranus is setting in the west near Mars and Venus at mid-month.   It shines at magnitude 5.9, but not bright enough to spot in good binoculars because of its lingering in strong solar glare throughout the month - in  PISCES

Neptune - Our most distant world, outside of Pluto, is now in strong twilight in western skies and will not be viewable for a couple of months.. - in AQUARIUS

Pluto - at magnitude 14.3, our most distant planet ( is a planet) will not rise until about 5 a.m. at mid-month and be very low in the east.  - in SAGITTARIUS

METEOR SHOWER for February 2018:  .

February 26 -  DELTA LEONID METEORS - With the moon being nearly full on both days on either side of this date of this minor meteor shower, 2018 will prove to be an very poor year for observing the Delta Leonid meteors (or any meteors) it appears......and..this one is the only meteor shower that February has to offer each year.   The Earth actually intersects the cloud of cometary or asteroidal (the actual source of the cloud is not known at this time....) as early as Feb. 5 each year and seems to be encountering meteoric material as late as March 19; nonetheless, there IS a definite peak each year that seems to center on the last few days of February.  These are moderately slow meteors, traveling at about 24 KPS, and only about five per hour can be expected at most.  The radiant, at astronomical coordinates: RA 10h 36m / DEC +19 deg, is found about midway between the moderately bright stars Zosma and Algeiba (the two that make the long stretch of the Lion's Back in Leo); look for these stars and the meteor shower to be nearly overhead for mid-northern latitudes about 11 p.m. local time, with most meteors seen well after.

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