All information presented here is taken from my 74 page book
Nightscenes 2018 which is available to order from our web shop and all good book stores! Note we can no longer supply printed copies as we’ve run out but a pdf version is now available from our web shop.
Click on the monthly image to get a larger high resolution view of the night sky set for 53° N (Horncastle, England) but is usable for the UK and Eire. All charts are set for the 1st of the month at 22:00 GMT (10pm) and can be used on the other dates and times shown in each corner of the chart.
Solar System quick summary
For most charts see the buttons at the top for various planets etc.. Charts & images in the text can be clicked to give a larger view.
Venus creeps up into the early evening twilight from mid month and towards the end of February is joined by Mercury. Neptune drops into the early evening twilight by mid month and is then lost to view. Uranus lies higher in the sky and so is still viewable in Pisces whilst Dwarf planet Ceres remains viewable in a binocular in the evening sky in northern Cancer. The morning sky, before dawn, is dominated by Jupiter in Libra with Mars (Sco/Oph) and Saturn (Sgr) and the minor planet Vesta. The Moon occults Aldebaran on the 23rd in daylight. There is no Full Moon this month as it occurred on January 31st and the next is on March 2nd. There are no major meteor showers this month.
The evening skies of February are still home to faint and distant worlds with Neptune in Aquarius and Uranus higher up in Pisces. However Neptune slides down into the encroaching evening twilight and so from the middle of the month becomes difficult then impossible to view. As it does so Venus emerges into the bright evening twilight on the 16th and is joined by the slim crescent Moon. On that evening look roughly twenty minutes AFTER sunset just above the WSW horizon so make sure you have a clear horizon in that direction. The Moon will only be ~ 20hrs and 35 minutes ‘young’ so it is a nice challenge! The Moon rapidly climbs into the sky but Venus is also climbing higher with each passing evening. From Feb 26th look out for a fainter ‘star’ climbing up to join the ‘evening star’ and this will be Mercury as it gets ready for a good show in March. The view above right is set for 6pm local time and again towards the WSW on the last day of the month.
Meanwhile in the morning sky we have three outer planets on display. Jupiter rises first, is the brightest
and lies in Libra. Its motion against the backdrop of stars is slowing down as it heads towards its stationary point on March 9th so it doesn’t show much of a trail on the chart. Mars rises next and because it is closer to us it moves the most against the stars showing a larger trail. Finally Saturn rises last and lies in Sagittarius. The chart here shows them at 6am on Feb 21st as a guide to where to finds them so if you are an early riser then these are the planets for you! The planet trails show their motion from Feb 16th to 28th (right to left).
Our next event to look out for begins in daylight and ends in evening twilight on February 23rd. The First Quarter Moon occults the bright star Aldebaran in Taurus but the disappearance (left) is during daylight at around 4:20pm local time onwards as times vary across the UK and Ireland. The Moon however should be easily visible if the sky is clear and so a large binocular or a telescope will be best to spot this event. Begin looking out for the reappearance of Aldebaran from 5:25pm, again times of reappearance will vary depending on where you are so this is the earliest it will appear.
Also look out for the following:
Feb 20th The Moon lies to the left of Uranus this evening.
Feb 22nd The almost half Moon forms triangle with M45 and Hyades/Aldebaran (Eve)
Feb 23rd Minor Planet Vesta lies just below Eta Ophiuchus (morning)
Feb 27th Minor Planet Vesta lies 5 ½° north of Mars (morning)
Feb 28th The Moon again lies to upper right of Regulus in the late evening.
Clear skies and happy sky watching.
The UK & Ireland Night Sky for 2018
Webmaster © Paul L Money 2017
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