What's in the Sky Tonight? February 2020
Clear skies tonight? Browse our list of astronomical events for opportunities!
February is a great month for planetary viewing and imaging if you practice astrophotography! Get ready for Mercury, the Moon, and Mars to be in position for unique events. If you plan to observe the supermoon, make sure you use moon filters for your sensor's protection and your vision protection.
Planets and Moon Phases
February 9 - Full Moon, Supermoon
The first of four supermoons in 2020. Known to early Native Americans as the “Full Snow Moon” because snow fell the heaviest during this time.
February 10 - Mercury
At 18.2 degrees from the Sun, Mercury will reach its greatest eastern elongation. Look for the small planet low in the western sky just after sunset.
February 18 - Mars
In the early morning hours, the Moon will be passing in front of Mars. This rare event will be available to observe for North America, Central America and northern South America, Cuba, and Haiti.
February 23 - New Moon
An ideal night for viewing or imaging, you may not have to travel far to get dark skies on this night. Plan on viewing galaxies and star clusters.
For the more advanced astronomers, we’ve compiled a list of deep space objects to look for! Use the hashtag #OPTeam for a chance to be featured on our Instagram page!
DEEP SPACE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE
- Messier 36 (Pinwheel Cluster)
M 36 contains at least 60 stars and is estimated to be 25 million years.
- Messier 37
The second of the three bright star cluster, it’s the northern point of the polygon shaped constellation.
- M 38: Starfish Cluster
The least brightest of the three, but because of its location in Auriga, it is easy to find!
- NGC 2392: Eskimo Nebula
The remains of a dying star form what appears to be a face surrounded by a fur parka. In 1999 NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured a mesmerizing image that was clearly visible for all.
- Christmas Tree Cluster
Not to be confused with the Cone Nebula, they both appear in the same visual area. The “cone” is a thick cloud of gas and dust, and it is seen at what appears to be the top of the Christmas tree.
- Cone Nebula
Found in the Orion Arm, following the brighter stars after the Cone Nebula, their outline forms what to many is familiar as a Christmas tree.
- Rosette Nebula
A large cloud of gas and dust, for some, is also known as the Skull Nebula because of its close resemblance to a human skull.
DEEP SPACE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE
- Sirius: The Dog Star
A bright and colorful star, it has been known to be confused for a UFO! It flickers many colors, making it a mesmerizing object to capture. Look overhead at zenith so find it.
- Orion’s Belt
Orion appears to be standing on his head for the southern hemisphere. Look towards the northwestern sky for three bright stars in an almost straight line.
- NGC 2359: Thor’s Helmet
The Oxygen atoms in the illuminant gas give off a blue-green glow.
- NGC 1851: M 79
M 79 is a globular cluster located in the northern constellation Lepus, and is the brightest deep sky object in Columba!
- NGC 1792: The Starburst Spiral Galaxy
Different from common spiral galaxies, NGC 1792 displays curls on its outer spiral arms.
- NGC 2467: Skull and Crossbones Nebula
NGC 2467 is also known as a stellar nursery for its wide range of activity. A glowing display of different phases of the birth of a star that include flares, coronal mass ejections, Bok Globules, and more.
- M 46
Containing about 500 stars, it is about the size of the full Moon. It’s located close to Sirius.
Clear skies! 🔭✨