#astronomy February Evening Sky – Astronotes

January 31, 2020 - Comment

So now we have come to the shortest month of the 12 months; we made it by probably the most miserable month of the 12 months (in response to science) and are inside touching distance of spring. The times are getting longer and longer, however we nonetheless have loads of time to get out stargazing

So now we have come to the shortest month of the 12 months; we made it by probably the most miserable month of the 12 months (in response to science) and are inside touching distance of spring. The times are getting longer and longer, however we nonetheless have loads of time to get out stargazing whereas it’s darkish early and we are able to nonetheless go to mattress at an inexpensive hour (9pm promptly for me).

One of many first celestial occasions within the shortest month of the 12 months is the total moon on the ninth, and never solely will we get a beautiful shiny moon in our sky, this full moon would be the first supermoon of the 12 months! Supermoons happen when the moon is at 90% or extra of its closest method to Earth. The February full moon even has two names, The Snow Moon and The Starvation Moon. These names got to this full moon by early Native American tribes due to the big quantity of snow right now of 12 months, and since looking was troublesome as a result of harsh climate.

2017’s snow moon. This 12 months it is going to be even larger as it’s also a supermoon!

Within the southern sky within the evenings, the constellation Lepus the hare hops throughout the sky near the horizon. This constellation is made up of eight main stars and a few assume that it represents the hare being chased by Orion and his looking canine.

In different cultures the constellation is related to lunar mythology – within the far east there’s a legendary rabbit or hare who lives on the moon, grinding endlessly away at a mortar and pestle, whose contents differ from tradition to tradition. In China, the place the parable is believed to have originated, the rabbit (or hare) is a companion of the moon goddess Chang’e (who the Chinese language collection of moon landers are named after) , and is making the elixir of life for her (possibly we should always look to rabbits for the key to longer lives?).

The rabbit within the moon outlined. It’s also possible to see their mortar (and pestle), the place they make varied concoctions

There’s a very attention-grabbing object throughout the borders of the constellation Lepus, a globular cluster named Messier 79. This is among the few globular clusters seen within the Northern Hemisphere’s winter, most of them are solely seen in the summertime as they orbit the centre of the milky means, which we face in the summertime.

Globular clusters are very outdated spherical teams of stars, that are held collectively by gravity. Globular clusters comprise no fuel or mud, simply actually outdated stars. A lot of the stars in M79 are purple giants.

A picture of Messier 79, the globular cluster taken by the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) satellite tv for pc

One other constellation on view within the February Evening sky is Auriga. The identify Auriga means ‘the charioteer’, as a result of the celebs that make it up kind a form just like that of a charioteer’s pointy helmet. The charioteer is depicted as holding a goat in his left arm and the chariot’s reins within the different, and though the charioteer is believed by some to signify the inventor of the four-horse chariot, Erichthonius, not one of the tales about Erichthonius comprise a goat. Neither are goats related to different figures that Auriga is alleged to depict, equivalent to Hephaestus (coincidentally father of Erichthonius), who supposedly invented the chariot to assist him get round, as he couldn’t stroll and not using a cane. One other story (once more lacking the all-important goat) which is related to the constellation Auriga is that of Myrtilus, who, by the order of King Oenomaus, challenged all suitors of Hippodamia (Oenomaus’ daughter) to a chariot race (the story doesn’t finish there and in reality entails much more loss of life, dishonest and cursing of names, however I’ll go away that for one more time).

So, regardless of the tales of the charioteers containing no goats by any means, the brightest star within the constellation of Auriga is named Capella, which means ‘she-goat’ and represents Amalthea, the goat who was the foster mom of Zeus. There have been some uncommon household dynamics happening in historical Greece. Capella is the sixth brightest star within the night time sky and is definitely a binary star system. The 2 stars could be seen individually with a telescope.

There are additionally three messier objects to look out for in Auriga, M36, M37 and M38. All three are open clusters of stars which had been all born on the similar time and can unfold out as they age.

Messier 36Messier 37Messier 38Messier objects M36, M37 and M38

Auriga additionally has the excellence of being the constellation which holds the galactic anti-centre. That is the purpose which is reverse within the sky to the galactic centre (centre of the milky means). So after we are trying this manner in winter we’re taking a peek exterior our personal galaxy. Though the one factor we are able to see exterior our galaxy on this course (with the bare eye) is darkness. By no means…ending…darkness…

Shifting on we come to a reasonably magical constellation within the sky. Though there aren’t any shiny stars on this constellation, it has some attention-grabbing objects inside it, and it’s price taking a look at only for the truth that it’s a unicorn. Or Monoceros in Latin (pronounced like rhinoceros, pleasingly). And simply in time for valentine’s day, one of many objects in Monoceros is M50 – the heart-shaped cluster! That is one more open cluster (boring by now) and whereas it is likely to be laborious to make out its coronary heart form with the bare eye, with a sufficiently big telescope you possibly can see no less than 40 blue-white stars.

When searching for planets this month, look out for Mercury on the 10th, the place it is going to be at its best jap elongation. I attempted to elucidate the arithmetic in easy phrases however didn’t even clarify it to myself. So, mainly, which means Mercury shall be at its highest level above the horizon within the evenings. Nevertheless, Mercury will nonetheless be fairly low within the sky, and it’ll seem within the west.

Mars will also be seen right now of 12 months within the west of the sky within the constellation of Pisces the fish firstly of the month, transferring into Aries in the direction of the tip of the month, within the evenings earlier than it units beneath the horizon. And, on the very begin of the month, proper earlier than daybreak, Venus and Jupiter will seem subsequent to one another and each very near the horizon. Venus will keep near the horizon and solely seen proper earlier than daybreak all month, whereas Jupiter will transfer away from Venus and South, changing into farther from the horizon because the month goes on. On the 18th of the month Saturn will come near Venus within the southeast, and once more, this shall be simply earlier than daybreak and simply above the horizon.

Text Box: Figure 1: No conjunctions this month, but a few near missesNo conjunctions this month, however a couple of close to misses

Lastly, nearing the tip of the month, now we have the brand new moon, which is the most effective time to take a look at the celebs, with no mild from that pesky outdated moon getting in the best way. So get going and have a go at stargazing, get away the telescope you bought for Christmas or deal with your self to a pair of binoculars and take advantage of the chilly, early nights of winter. Don’t overlook the gloves (in case you even want them, what with international warming and all)! On that cheery word, have an ideal February!

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