Friday, February 5
- Last-quarter Moon (exact at 6:48 p.m. EST).
- Saturday, February 6
- Once Saturn rises into good view late tonight, a small scope will show its largest satellite, Titan, about four ring-lengths to the planet's east.
- If you're up in early dawn Sunday morning, look for Antares 3° or 4° lower left of the waning crescent Moon (as seen from North America), as shown below.
Sunday, February 7
- With the Moon gone from the early-evening sky, this is a good week to look for the zodiacal light (from mid-northern latitudes). Look west just as twilight is ending. If you have good clear air, above the fading twilight glow will be a vague but huge, tall, tilted pyramid of pearly light. It aligns with the constellations of the zodiac. What you're seeing is sunlit interplanetary dust, which originated from asteroids and short-period comets.
- The bright eclipsing variable star Algol should be in one of its periodic dimmings, magnitude 3.4 instead of its usual 2.1, for a couple hours centered on 9:45 p.m. EST. Algol takes several additional hours to fade and to rebrighten. Use our comparison-star chart. For all times of Algol's minima this month, good worldwide, see the February Sky & Telescope, page 59. Monday, February 8
- Maybe you think of globular star clusters as telescopic attractions of summer. But Orion now stands highest in the south in the evening, and under Orion's feet is Lepus the Hare, and in southern Lepus is M79, the lone globular cluster of winter (for mid-northern latitudes). See the "Binocular Highlight" article and finder chart in the February Sky & Telescope, page 45. Tuesday, February 9
- As dawn brightens Wednesday morning, spot the waning crescent Moon low in the southeast, as shown below. If the Moon were a bow, it would be shooting an arrow toward Mercury far to its lower left. Binoculars help.
Sky & Telescope diagram
Wednesday, February 10
- Algol should be at minimum light for a couple hours centered on 6:35 p.m. EST.
- Low before sunrise Thursday morning, the thin crescent Moon is near Mercury, as shown above. Thursday, February 11
- Around 9 or 10 p.m., depending on how far east or west you live in your time zone, the Big Dipper will have risen to the same height in the northeast as Cassiopeia has sunk in the northwest. Midway between them, and a little higher, is Polaris, the North Star. Friday, February 12
- The asteroid 4 Vesta, in Leo, is an easy binocular target all month. It's currently magnitude 6.2, and it will reach magnitude 6.1 at opposition on the night of February 17th. See the finder chart in the February Sky & Telescope, page 54, or online. Before dawn Saturday morning (for the Americas), Vesta forms a "double star" with the 7th-magnitude star HD 89930 that changes orientation dramatically every hour. They're within about 1 arcminute of each other when seen before dawn from North America.
Saturday, February 13
- New Moon (exact at 9:51 p.m. EST).