The Night Sky This Week

Every Monday, I pick North America’s celestial highlights for the week forward (which additionally apply to mid-northern latitudes within the northern hemisphere), however you’ll want to verify my important feed for extra in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy, eclipses and extra.

The Night time Sky This Week: February 19-25, 2024

The spotlight for sky-watchers this week is undoubtedly the rise of the complete “Snow Moon,” which simply occurs to be the smallest full moon of the yr—the alternative of a supermoon. In apply, it would nonetheless look massive significantly when you view it because it rises on the east throughout nightfall on Saturday.

There are few different attention-grabbing celestial occasions to be careful for, together with a waxing crescent moon in Gemini, and Venus and Mars showing to go shut to one another.

Right here’s every little thing that you must learn about stargazing and astronomy this week:

Tuesday, February 20: Moon In Gemini

Look to the jap night time sky after the solar goes down, and also you’ll see a 90%-lit waxing crescent moon hanging only a diploma or so beneath Pollux, the brightest star within the constellation Gemini. Above will probably be Castor, the opposite of the “twins” of Gemini. Pollux and Castor are 52 and 34 light-years from the photo voltaic system, respectively, and the forty sixth and seventeenth brightest stars within the night time sky.

Thursday, February 22: Venus And Mars

There are few extra lovely celestial sights than two huge, vibrant planets showing to go shut to at least one one other. Sadly, that’s probably not the case this morning, as a superb Venus seems subsequent to a really dim Mars. Nonetheless, it’s shut—simply 0.6 of a level—and with a pair of binoculars, it is best to be capable to see the sight within the southeastern pre-dawn sky when you’ve got binoculars. Venus will probably be easy to search out and you should utilize it as a information to search out Mars, to its decrease proper.

Friday, February 23: Moon And Regulus

A waxing gibbous moon, 99% illuminated, will shine just a few levels from Regulus, the brightest star within the constellation Leo, “the lion,” after darkish within the jap night time sky. Regulus, “star of the Lion’s breast,” is 77 light-years distant and the twenty first brightest star within the night time sky.

Saturday, February 24: Full ‘Snow Moon’

Finest seen at moonrise the place you’re tonight, the second full moon of 2024 and the third of winter within the northern hemisphere, the “Snow Moon”—also referred to as the “Hungry Moon” and the “Storm Moon”—would be the farthest from Earth in 2024 (apogee). Subsequently, it will likely be the smallest—the alternative of a “supermoon.”

Stargazing Tip Of The Week: The Finest Time To Stargaze

You may stargaze any time of yr however you do want a transparent sky. It helps to keep away from mild air pollution, however the moon’s section is extra important. The primary factor to keep away from is a full moon, which bleaches the night time sky. The week earlier than a full moon can also be tough.

The perfect time is from the Third Quarter to the New Moon, when there’s no moonlight earlier than midnight. With no moon and a transparent sky, you’ll see just a few thousand stars, the Milky Manner (in summer season), meteors, and satellites—all along with your bare eyes. It’s accessible to anybody who takes the time to look.

Stargazing Dates For Your Diary: Planetary Conjunctions

The obvious shut go (conjunction) of Venus and Mars this week is tough to see, however there will probably be extra in 2024 that will probably be simpler to see:

  • April 20: Jupiter and Uranus (separated by simply half a level)
  • July 16: Mars and Uranus (separated by only a diploma—an outstretched finger)
  • August 15: Mars and Jupiter (separated by only a third of a level)

The instances and dates given apply to mid-northern latitudes. For essentially the most correct location-specific data, seek the advice of on-line planetariums like Stellarium and The Sky Reside. Examine planet-rise/planet-set, dawn/sundown and moonrise/moonset instances for the place you’re.

I’m an knowledgeable on the night time sky and creator of Stargazing In 2024: 50 Simple Issues To See In The Night time Sky From North America. For the very newest on sky occasions and the whole photo voltaic eclipse please subscribe or verify my important feed recurrently for brand spanking new articles.

Wishing you clear skies and huge eyes.

Comply with me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Take a look at my web site or a few of my different work right here. 

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