binocular viewers

What’s Up for February 2016?

Five morning planets, Comet Catalina passes Polaris and icy Uranus and icy Vesta meet near Valentine’s Day.

February mornings (until Feb. 20) feature Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter. The last time this five-planet dawn lineup happened was in 2005. The planets are easy to distinguish when you use the moon as your guide. Details on viewing HERE.

If you miss all five planets this month, you’ll be able to see them again in August’s sunset sky.

Last month, Comet Catalina’s curved dust tail and straight ion tail were visible in binoculars and telescopes near two galaxies that are close to the handle of the Big Dipper. Early this month, the comet nears Polaris, the North Star. It should be visible all month long for northern hemisphere observers.

There will be more opportunities to photograph Comet Catalina paired with other objects this month. It passes the faint spiral galaxy IC 342 and a pretty planetary nebula named NGC 1501 between Feb. 10 – 29. For binocular viewers, the magnitude 6 comet pairs up with a pretty string of stars, known as Kemble’s Cascade, on Feb. 24.

Finally, through binoculars, you should be able to pick out Vesta and Uranus near one another this month. You can use the moon as a guide on Feb. 12, and the cornerstone and the corner stars of Pegasus all month long.

For more information about What’s Up in the February sky, watch our monthly video HERE

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