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Saskatchewan Skies: Venus rises higher each day in February

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On the night of February 21st, a slender crescent will join Venus, making for a great photo opportunity.

The Moon is in its first quarter on February 1st. A few days later, Pollux is north of him at 1 degree. Next, February 5th is a full moon, making it the smallest moon in 2023, indicating that the moon is farthest from the Earth at that time. It is – 406,476 kilometers apogee February 4th. The last quarter is his February 13th, and the next day Antares, the bright red star in Scorpio, is 1.8 degrees south of the Moon. By February 18th, Mercury will be 4 degrees north of the very thin Moon. On February 19th, the Moon will be at perigee (358,267 kilometers), causing large tides in coastal regions. The moon is his February 20th new moon. From February 21st to 28th, Neptune, Venus, Jupiter, Uranus and Mars, one after the other, are within 2 degrees or less of her from the moon. The latter three of his events are occultations, but in locations other than central Canada.

Mercury gives southern viewers fun, but not so much for northern observers. If you’re south of the equator, it’s the best morning appearance of the year. Finding a fast planet hovering just above the horizon in the early morning sky will be a challenge for northerners. Look for pairs on February 18th.

Venus rises higher each day in February. A very challenging observation is made on her February 15th, when Neptune is only 0.01 degrees away. Visual aids are essential, and the difference in magnitude between the two planets almost guarantees failure to discover Neptune. On the night of February 21st, a slender crescent will join Venus, making for a great photo opportunity.

Mars is among the stars in Taurus, well aligned all night, but fading rapidly as Earth moves away from Mars. A waxing moon transits on her February 27 night.

Jupiter goes through a retrograde loop in early February, moving out of Pisces and into Cetus, then back into Pisces again by mid-month. Giant Jupiter, the second brightest planet, is visited by Venus. Venus, the brighter of the two, moves through the evening ecliptic. On February 22nd, the Moon slides past the planetary pair.

Saturn is in front of the Sun and cannot be seen.

Uranus will be briefly visible in the western evening sky before dropping below the horizon around midnight. Note the moon near February 25th.

Neptune is moving closer and closer to the Sun through the Moon and won’t be seen again until early April.

The zodiac light can be seen in the western evening twilight for two weeks in mid-February. This phenomenon is caused by the backlit by the Sun of space dust along the Ecliptic. It’s subtle, but it’s fun to watch and you can catch a glimpse of it.

James Edgar had a lifelong interest in the night sky. He joined the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada in 2000, served two terms as National President, and is currently the editor of the Observer’s Handbook and production manager of the bimonthly He RASC Journal. The IAU named asteroid 1995 XC5 in his honor “(22421) Jamesedgar” and was recently awarded a RASC fellowship.

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