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February 2019

February 2019 Night Sky Guide. Welcome to the night sky in February. This month brings the promise of crisp clear nights (when it isn’t cloudy of course) and maybe even some snow.

February 2019 is certainly a fantastic month for stargazing. Whether you are a beginner or seasoned stargazer. There is something for all. This guide is suitable those with zero experience upwards.

Read on to find out even more about the night Sky in February 2019.

February 2019 Night Sky Guide

Evening Planets

Mars is still the only prominent planet in the evening sky this month. The red planet is now far past its best but is still very bright and obvious in the south western sky.

Neptune and Uranus are visible in a small telescope or good binoculars. You will find a star map or astronomy app rather useful in finding them.

On the evenings of 12 and 13 February 2019 the planet Uranus can be spotted with binoculars very close to Mars. This encounter is one of those rare occasions where we use a very obvious object to find a difficult one. Uranus is usually out of reach to everyday stargazers, but on the 12 and 13 February it will be easy to spot. Use the charts below to find Uranus next to Mars in binoculars. If you don’t own a pair of binoculars, here’s a guide to choosing a good pair.

February 2019
Uranus next to Mars on February 12 2019
February 2019
Uranus next to Mars on February 13 2019

Mercury makes an appearance mid month near the western horizon. It lingers in the sky for about an hour after sunset before setting itself. The tiny planet will be easily spotted mid month onwards, but will fade out of view later in the month. Greatest eastern elongation on 27 February 2019.

Morning Planets

The mornings have been quite spectacular in January and still impress in February 2019. Bright Venus and Jupiter still being the stars of the show (I mean planets).

Jupiter rises around 5am and is followed shortly after by Venus. On 1st February 2019, Jupiter, Venus, the thin crescent Moon and Saturn can all be seen together around 7am. An ideal photo opportunity for the early risers. As the month moves on, Jupiter and Venus will move further apart with Venus moving closer to the Sun.

February 2019
Saturn, Crescent Moon, Venus and Jupiter February 1 2019

The morning skies keep on giving this month with a rather close encounter with Saturn and Venus on the mornings around the 18 February 2019 at around 6am. Jupiter and Saturn continue to move away from Venus even more as the month progresses. There’s a close encounter with the moon again on the final days of the month. Get your cameras ready for the mornings of February 2019, they will be spectacular.

February 2019
Morning Sky 18 February 2019

The Moon in February 2019

As well as dancing with the planets and other objects in the night sky during February. The Full Moon In February 2019 will be a Supermoon and the closest and apparently largest for 8 years.

February 2019
Credit: VirtualAstro

The Full Moon in February is also known as the Snow Moon in folklore. Other names from European and North American traditions are the Hunger Moon or Storm Moon.

Moon phases for February 2019 are as follows:

  • New Moon – February 4, 21:03
  • First Quarter – 12 February, 22:26
  • Full Moon – 19 February, 15:53
  • Last Quarter – 26 February 11:27

Moon Events and Close Encounters February 2019

  • January 1- 2 thin Crescent Moon joins Venus and Jupiter in the early Morning Sky.
  • Moon and Mars close together January 16.
  • The Moon and Aldebaran in Taurus are close together on January 13.
  • Closest Supermoon for the next 8 years. (even more info in another article coming shortly)
  • January 30 – 31 Crescent Moon joins Venus and Jupiter in the pre dawn sky.

Constellations

February 2019 is the setting for the most familiar winter constellations, which are now perfectly on view. Above all Orion is probably the most famous and striking of all the constellations and is due south in all it’s glory this month. There are many wonderful things to see in this constellation and you can find out more about them in Orion Constellation – Mighty Guardian of Winter Skies. 

Top right of Orion is the constellation of Taurus the Bull. The bright orange giant star Aldebaran (Visited by the Moon on 13 February 2019) in the V shaped Hyades cluster and Pleiades star cluster further to the right further some more. Find out more about the Pleiades in Pleiades – Seven Sisters – Subaru – M45. Jewel of Winter Skies.

To the lower left of Orion is the Constellation of Canis Major – The big dog. The constellation is itself rather unimpressive and lies low in the sky from the UK. Above all, Its crowning glory is its alpha star Sirius – The Dog Star. Brightest star in the whole night sky. Sirius is famous for its twinkling. Often mistaken for a UFO due to its bright flashes of colour. Find out more about Sirius and why it twinkles so much here.

February 2019
Credit: Stellarium

In the northern sky you will find all of the usual circumpolar constellations. The only difference is their positions. Cassiopeia and Cepheus are almost seated upside down and Ursa Major – The Big Dipper or Plough is tail/ handle down February 2019.

Asterisms

The stars in the night sky form shapes that are known as asterisms. However, these aren’t to be confused with constellations which are actually boxes that contain groups of stars which make up asterisms. The plough or big dipper being the most famous asterism example.

Winter Triangle

Using the image above you can trace the asterism of the Winter Triangle. Trace an imaginary line from Betelgeuse in Orion to Sirius in Canis Major. Then trace another imaginary line up and to the right the same distance to the bright star Procyon in Canis Minor. Then trace a line back to Betelgeuse to form the winter triangle asterism.

Winter triangle
Winter Triangle

Winter Hexagon

Another well known winter asterism is the Winter Hexagon. The shape made by joining up the stars: Aldebaran, Rigel, Sirius, Procyon, Pollux, Capella and then back to Aldebaran.

Winter Hexagon

The night sky is contains many asterisms. These will help you learn and find your way around the night sky. You can even make up your own.

International Space Station February 2019

International Space Station (ISS) passes occur over the UK early February 2019. Times and info can be found here.

Copyright: www.meteorwatch.org @VirtualAstro

Further reading:

Orion Constellation – Mighty Guardian of Winter Skies

Orion Constellation

iPhone Night Sky Photography – Take Night Sky Pics Using Your iPhone

Pleiades – Seven Sisters – Subaru – M45. Jewel of Winter Skies

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