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What's Up...
Some observing hilights
to look forward to...

The following tips on current and upcoming astronomical events
have been gathered from magazines and other sources by Dave Gamble
with the objective of giving OC RASC members a heads-up on
special personal
astro-experiences to look forward to.

Thurs. Feb. 2 – For those interested in spotting the ice giant Uranus, tonight the waxing crescent Moon will provide a convenient fingerpost, passing only the width of two fingers held at arm’s length to the south of the aqua coloured planet.

Fri. Feb. 3 – This is First Quarter Moon night when the perfectly half lit sphere will be high in the sky as evening darkness commences.

Sun. Feb. 5 – Tonight the waxing gibbous Moon will pass less than half its width from bright Aldebaran in Taurus.

Fri. Feb. 10 – This is Full Moon night, and there will be something special happening when it rises over the eastern mountains in the early evening. A penumbral eclipse will be ending. Since the Moon will only be in the penumbral shadow cast by the Earth, the darkening will be very subtle. An interesting point is that this will be half a year from this summer’s Total Solar Eclipse, so the Moon will be in a similar area of sky as it will be on August 21.

Sat. Feb. 11 – The Moon will be a bit more than its width from the bright star Regulus in Leo tonight.

Tues. Feb. 14  -  The window to observe the Zodiacal light is opening up. Under dark sky conditions, look for an arch of faint, hazy light stretching up from the western horizon. You will be looking at light being scattered by the leftover dust in the Sun's equatorial plane.

Wed. Feb. 15 – Tonight the Moon will pass about the width of two fingers from bright Jupiter.

Fri. Feb. 17 – Tonight will be notable since Venus will reach its greatest brilliancy, shining like a magnitude -4.8 searchlight in the evening Okanagan sky.

Sat. Feb. 18 – This is Last Quarter Moon night with our half lit neighbour rising around midnight, and hovering high in the sky the following morning. The next dark sky period is just around the corner!

Sun. Feb. 19 - Algol the Devil Star will put on a performance this evening. The eclipsing binary star will be at minimum brightness from 8.50pm to 10.50pm. You might compare its brightness with neighbouring stars in Perseus around 10pm, revisiting it again around midnight to detect the difference.

Mon. Feb. 20 – The waning crescent Moon will pass just north of Saturn tonight.

Thurs. Feb. 23 – Bright Jupiter will pass just above the star Spica in Virgo tonight. At home, Spica is a rotating ellipsoidal variable, a system whose two main stars are so close together they are egg-shaped rather than spherical. The primary is a blue giant accompanied by a Beta Cephei type variable. Despite its combined brightness in our sky, Spica (pronounced SPEE-ka) is located about 250 light years away.

Sun. Feb. 26 – This is New Moon night, the heart of the dark sky observing, sketching and imaging period. All that is needed are some clear skies.

Mon. Feb. 27 – There will be a colourful get-together in the sky tonight as ruddy Mars pays a visit to aqua coloured Uranus with a separation of about the width of the Moon.

Tues. Feb. 28 – The sliver of Moon will pass only the width of your fist at arm’s length south of Venus low in the western sky. Mars joins in to make it a wide triangle.