Night Sky Guide for February 2019

February 2 – Close approach of the Moon and Saturn – 07:05 UTC. The Moon and Saturn will make a close approach, passing within 0°37′ of each other. The Moon will be 27 days old. The Moon will be at mag -9.5, and Saturn at mag 0.5, both in the constellation Sagittarius. The pair will be a little too widely separated to fit comfortably within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars. At around the same time, the two objects will also share the same right ascension – called a conjunction.

February 2 – Conjunction of the Moon and Saturn – 07:07 UTC. The Moon and Saturn will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 0°37′ to the north of Saturn.  At around the same time, the two objects will also make a close approach, technically called an appulse. The Moon will be at mag -9.5, and Saturn at mag 0.5, both in the constellation Sagittarius. The pair will be a little too widely separated to fit comfortably within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

February 4 – New Moon – 21:05 UTC. The Moon will pass close to the Sun and become lost in the Sun’s glare for a few days. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

February 5 – Asteroid 532 Herculina at opposition. Asteroid 532 Herculina will be well placed for observation, lying in the constellation Leo, well above the horizon for much of the night. Regardless of your location on the Earth, 532 Herculina will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time.

February 7 – C/2018 Y1 (Iwamoto) at perihelion. Comet C/2018 Y1 (Iwamoto) will make its closest approach to the Sun, at a distance of 1.28 AU.

February 8 – NGC 2808 well placed for observation. Across much of the world, the globular cluster NGC 2808 in Carina will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -64°51′, it is easiest to see from the southern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much north of 5°N.

February 10 – Conjunction of the Moon and Mars – 16:20 UTC. The Moon and Mars will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 6°04′ to the south of Mars. The Moon will be 6 days old. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope or pair of binoculars but will be visible to the naked eye.

February 12 – C/2018 Y1 (Iwamoto) reaches its brightest. Comet C/2018 Y1 (Iwamoto) is forecast to reach its brightest, at around mag 7.7. It will lie at a distance of 1.28 AU from the Sun, and at a distance of 0.30 AU from the Earth.

February 13 – Close approach of Mars and Uranus – 05:32 UTC. Mars and Uranus will make a close approach, passing within 0°58′ of each other. Mars will be at mag 1.0, and Uranus at mag 5.8, both in the constellation Aries. The pair will be a little too widely separated to fit comfortably within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible through a pair of binoculars. At around the same time, the two objects will also share the same right ascension – called a conjunction.

February 13 – Conjunction of Mars and Uranus – 20:07 UTC. Mars and Uranus will share the same right ascension, with Mars passing 1°03′ to the north of Uranus. At around the same time, the two objects will also make a close approach, technically called an appulse. Mars will be at mag 1.0, and Uranus at mag 5.8, both in the constellation Aries. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible through a pair of binoculars.

February 18 – Close approach of the Moon and M44 – 03:32 UTC. The Moon and M44 will make a close approach, passing within 0°16′ of each other. The Moon will be 14 days old. The Moon will be at mag -12.8, and M44 at mag 3.1, both in the constellation Cancer. The pair will be close enough to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will also be visible through a pair of binoculars.

February 18 – Close approach of Venus and Saturn – 12:19 UTC. Venus and Saturn will make a close approach, passing within 1°05′ of each other. Venus will be at mag -4.1, and Saturn at mag 0.4, both in the constellation Sagittarius. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars. At around the same time, the two objects will also share the same right ascension – called a conjunction.

February 18 – Conjunction of Venus and Saturn – 13:50 UTC. Venus and Saturn will share the same right ascension, with Venus passing 1°05′ to the north of Saturn. At around the same time, the two objects will also make a close approach, technically called an appulse. Venus will be at mag -4.1, and Saturn at mag 0.4, both in the constellation Sagittarius. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

February 19 – Conjunction of Mercury and Neptune – 11:02 UTC. Mercury and Neptune will share the same right ascension, with Mercury passing 0°46′ to the north of Neptune.  Mercury will be at mag -1.0, and Neptune at mag 8.0, both in the constellation Aquarius. The pair will be a little too widely separated to fit comfortably within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible through a pair of binoculars.

February 19 – Full Moon, Supermoon – 15:55 UTC. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Snow Moon because the heaviest snows usually fell during this time of the year. Since hunting is difficult, this moon has also been known by some tribes as the Full Hunger Moon, since the harsh weather made hunting difficult. This is also the second of three supermoons for 2019. The Moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual.

February 19 – M81 well placed for observation. Bode’s galaxy (M81, NGC 3031) in Ursa Major will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +69°03′, it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 0°S.

February 21 – NGC 3114 well placed for observation. Across much of the world, the open star cluster NGC 3114 in Carina will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -60°07′, it is easiest to see from the southern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much north of 9°N. At magnitude 4.2, NGC3114 is tricky to make out with the naked eye except from a dark site but is visible through a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.

February 23 – Conjunction of Venus and Pluto – 08:31 UTC. Venus and Pluto will share the same right ascension, with Venus passing 1°24′ to the north of Pluto. Venus will be at mag -4.1, and 134340 Pluto at mag 14.7, both in the constellation Sagittarius. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible through a pair of binoculars.

February 26 – Mercury at dichotomy – 15:49 UTC. Mercury will reach half phase in its 2019 evening apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -0.6.

February 26 – Mercury at greatest elongation east – 21:29 UTC. Mercury will reach its greatest separation from the Sun in its 2019 evening apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -0.5.

February 27 – Conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter – 14:17 UTC. The Moon and Jupiter will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 2°19′ to the north of Jupiter. The Moon will be 23 days old. At around the same time, the two objects will also make a close approach, technically called an appulse. The Moon will be at mag -11.6, and Jupiter at mag -2.0, both in the constellation Ophiuchus. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

February 27 – Close approach of the Moon and Jupiter – 14:55 UTC. The Moon and Jupiter will make a close approach, passing within 2°17′ of each other. The Moon will be at mag -11.6, and Jupiter at mag -2.0, both in the constellation Ophiuchus. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars. At around the same time, the two objects will also share the same right ascension – called a conjunction.

February 27 – IC2581 well placed for observation. Across much of the world, the open star cluster IC 2581 in Carina will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -57°37′, it is easiest to see from the southern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much north of 12°N. At magnitude 4.0, IC2581 is tricky to make out with the naked eye except from a dark site but is visible through a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.

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