The night sky offers a show unlike anything else. In this monthly series, we will explore some of the top viewing experiences for backyard astronomers.
Here are some highlights from NASA’s Skywatching report, as to what you can look forward to observing in the February sky!
Feb. 2 – Near Earth Object (2020 SO)
Around 3:42 p.m. CT, look for Near Earth Object 2020 SO, which is roughly 25-56 feet in length and will pass the Earth traveling at a speed of 4,000 miles per hour.
Feb. 2-3 – Spica
The bright star Spica will appear to the lower right of the waning gibbous Moon late Tuesday night, around 10:07 p.m. CT, with Spica rising to the right approximately 7 minutes after.
Feb. 6 – Antares
Bright star Antares will make an appearance in the morning, 22 minutes after Moonrise (1:41 a.m. CT). It will be visible to the lower right of the waning crescent Moon.
Feb. 8 – Mercury at inferior conjunction
Mercury will pass between the Sun and Earth, transitioning from the evening sky to the morning sky, and will begin to be visible at dawn on the eastern horizon beginning after Feb. 11.
Feb. 15 – Jupiter emerges
Jupiter will rise in the east-southeast at dawn, approximately half an hour before sunrise.
Feb. 17 – Near Earth Object (2020 CX1)
Around 7:29 p.m. CT (with 1 hour and 45 minutes uncertainty), look for Near Earth Object 2020 CX1, with a length between 132 and 295 feet, traveling past the Earth at roughly 18,510 miles per hour. The object will pass Earth between 3.7 and 5.9 lunar distances.
Feb. 18 – Mercury and Saturn appear in the morning, Mars in the evening
See both Mercury and Saturn at twilight this morning, around 4:57 a.m. CT, as they appear in the east-southeast just above the horizon, with Saturn to the right of Mercury. Saturn will appear brighter than Mercury in the beginning, but Mercury will begin to appear brighter than Saturn after a few mornings.
Mars will make an appearance in the evening, above and to the right of the waxing crescent Moon. The two will set together in the west-northwest at 11:40 p.m. CT.
Feb. 19-20 – Aldebaran
This bright star will be visible Friday evening around 5:49 p.m. CT and early into Saturday morning, around 12:39 a.m. CT, appearing slightly to the left of the Moon.
Feb. 23 – Mercury and Saturn appear closest together
See Mercury and Saturn make a close appearance this morning. The two will appear only 4 degrees apart, just 2 degrees above the east-southeastern horizon at the start of twilight.
Feb. 23-24 – Pollux
You can view this bright star and Gemini twin Tuesday evening into early Wednesday morning, beginning around 5:53 p.m. CT, when it will first appear above and to the left of the waxing gibbous Moon.
Pollux will be visible above the Moon (5 degrees) around 8:40 p.m. CT, when the Moon is at its highest point in the sky. Pollux will appear 6 degrees to the right of the Moon at Moonset, on Wednesday morning around 4:19 a.m. CT.
Feb. 26 – Regulus
This bright star can be seen to the left of the full Moon. Around 11:00 p.m. CT, Regulus will appear over 8 degrees apart from the Moon, but the two will shift as close as 6 degrees apart at the start of morning twilight, around 4:47 a.m. CT.
Feb. 27 – Full Moon
The full Moon in the year’s shortest month will take place on Feb. 27, early in the morning, around 2:17 a.m. CT. You will be able to enjoy the appearance of the full Moon for roughly 3 days, from Feb. 25 through Feb. 28.
Watch the video below from the National Space Centre in Leicester, UK for a tour of the night sky in January from Hayley Noone, duty manager at the National Space Centre.
Spot the Station
Watch the International Space Station pass overhead from several thousand worldwide locations. It is the third brightest object in the sky and easy to spot if you know when to look up. Visible to the naked eye, it looks like a fast-moving plane only much higher and traveling thousands of miles an hour faster! Find out when you can spot the station.
For stargazing tips, explore our guide. To learn more information about January 2021 celestial events, visit NASA Solar System Exploration.