Perfect Astronomy

February Night Sky Astronomy (2023)

Published February 1, 2023 by Tim Trott in News

What to see in February Night Sky including Moon phases, planets, conjunctions and spring time Deep Space Objects The Beehive Cluster and Leo Triplet.

February Moon Phases

February's Full Moon is named for the snowy weather in the Northern hemisphere and the full moon is called the Snow Moon. Storm moon and hunger moon are other common names.

Full Moon and New Moon for February 2023

Full Moon
Full Moon
Mon 6th Feb
Last Quarter
Last Quarter
Tue 14th Feb
New Moon
New Moon
Mon 20th Feb
First Quarter
First Quarter
Mon 27th Feb

Lunar libration favours Mare Orientale on 13-17 February so this night to catch a glimpse of this rare lunar sight. Look to the western limb of the moon, at roughly 8 o'clock position.

February Planets

Mercury will be visible in the evening sky from mid-February to early March, and dim in the morning from late March to early May. Best seen just before mid-month. You'll be able to use the thin crescent moon to help locate Mercury around 30 minutes before sunrise. The moon will be very low on the horizon and Mercury will be around 7 degrees to the left.

Venus is always brilliant, shining with a steady, silvery light. Mornings in the eastern sky at dawn from early January through to mid-June.

Mars is visible in the night sky from January to mid-July, then shifts to the morning sky from mid Oct to the end of December.

Get up early on the mornings between the 27th and 1st April to see Venus, Mars and Saturn together in the same binocular field of view, with the crescent moon blow them..

Jupiter is will be visible in the mornings from January to May, evenings from May to November, and mornings again from mid-December to the end of December. On February 22th the Moon and Jupiter will be separated by a degree and should look good through binoculars and small telescopes.

Saturn will be in conjunction with the Sun ion Feb 16th, so will not be visible.

February Meteor Showers

There are no notable meteor showers in February.

February Deep Space Objects

Winter constellations start to set and make way for the spring constellations. Cancer and Leo are rising in the east and make good spring targets for DSO hunters.

February and March are good times to observe the Beehive cluster (M44) in Cancer as it will be high in the sky. It is visible with the naked eye from a dark site, and a superb star cluster to observe in a small telescope.

Leo Triplet and M45 Beehive Cluster in Cancer
Leo Triplet and M45 Beehive Cluster in Cancer

February and March is also prime time for the Leo triplet of galaxies. Sitting about halfway between the stars Chertan and Iota Leonis, the three galaxies are a sight to behold as they all fit within the field of view of a small telescope.

If you're just beginning to observe galaxies then Messier M81 - Bode's Galaxy, and Messier M82 - Cigar Galaxy - in the constellation of Ursa Major are a nice bright pair to track down. They are located very close to one another, about 2° east of the star 24 Ursae Majoris.

M81 and M82 Location
M81 and M82 Location

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