This Week’s Sky: February 15 to 21, 2021 | SkyNews

Wednesday, 17 – Crescent Moon helps find Uranus (night)

Crescent Moon helps find Uranus (Chris Vaughan, Starry Night time Training)

Though a close-by vibrant Moon does magnitude 5.eight planet Uranus no favours, its month-to-month visits might help to indicate you the place the distant planet is positioned. Within the western sky on Wednesday, February 17, the 33-per-cent-illuminated crescent Moon will shine a number of finger widths to the higher left (or four levels to the celestial southeast) of Uranus. Notice Uranus’ place about halfway between the medium-bright stars Menkar (Alpha Ceti) and Sheratan (Beta Arietis) and hunt down the -green planet with binoculars, and even your unaided eyes, on a subsequent moonless evening.

Thursday, February 18 – Moon meets Mars (night)

Moon meets Mars (Chris Vaughan, Starry Night time Training)

Within the southwestern sky on the night of Thursday, February 18, the waxing, half-illuminated Moon will likely be positioned a number of finger widths beneath (or 3.7 levels to the celestial ) of Mars. The Moon and the planet will seem collectively within the area of view of binoculars (crimson circle). By the point they set within the west shortly after midnight native time, the diurnal rotation of the sky will carry the Moon to the planet’s left.

Friday, February 19 – First quarter Moon (at 18:47 GMT) passes Taurus

First quarter Moon (Chris Vaughan, Starry Night time Training)

When the Moon completes the primary quarter of its orbit round Earth at 1:47 p.m. EST (or 18:47 GMT) on Friday, February 19, the relative positions of the Earth, Solar and Moon will trigger us to see it half-illuminated on its jap aspect. At first quarter, the Moon all the time rises round midday and units round midnight, so additionally it is seen within the afternoon daytime sky. The evenings surrounding first quarter are the very best for seeing the lunar terrain when it’s dramatically lit by low-angled daylight. This primary quarter section will happen whereas the moon is passing a number of levels to the correct (celestial north) of the triangular face of Taurus, which consists of the big Hyades star cluster and the brilliant foreground star Aldebaran. Search for the brilliant Pleiades star cluster to the Moon’s proper.

Saturday, February 20 – The Lunar Straight Wall (night)

Lunar Straight Wall (Chris Vaughan, Starry Night time Training)

On Saturday night, February 20, the -to-pole terminator boundary that divides the lit and darkish hemispheres of the waxing gibbous Moon will fall simply to the left (or lunar west) of Rupes Recta, also called the Lunar Straight Wall. This function may be very apparent in good binoculars and yard telescopes. The rupes, Latin for “cliff”, is a north-south-aligned fault scarp that extends for 65 miles (110 km) throughout the southeastern a part of Mare Nubium — that’s the big darkish area within the decrease third of the Moon’s Earth-facing hemisphere. The Straight Wall is all the time distinguished a or two after first quarter, and once more simply earlier than third quarter. For reference, the Straight Wall is positioned north of the distinguished crater Tycho.

Sunday, February 21 – Moon within the Winter Hexagon (night)

Moon within the Winter Hexagon (Chris Vaughan, Starry Night time Training)

The Winter Hexagon, also called the Winter Soccer and Winter Circle, is an asterism composed of the brightest stars within the constellations of Canis Main, Orion, Taurus, Auriga, Gemini, and Canis Minor — particularly Sirius, Rigel, Aldebaran, Capella, Castor & Pollux and Procyon. After nightfall, the massive sample will stand upright within the southeastern sky, extending from 30 levels above the horizon to overhead. The Milky Manner passes vertically by means of the asterism. The hexagon is seen throughout evenings from mid-November to spring yearly. The waxing gibbous Moon will journey by means of the asterism from February 20 to 22.

Sunday, February 21 – Shiny Moon crosses Messier 35 (in a single day)

Shiny Moon crosses Messier 35 (Chris Vaughan, Starry Night time Training)

On Sunday evening, February 21, the eastward orbital movement of the Moon (inexperienced line) will carry it in the direction of and throughout the big open star cluster often called Messier 35, or the Shoe-Buckle Cluster. After nightfall on Sunday, the waxing gibbous Moon will likely be positioned a number of finger widths to the decrease proper of the cluster. Hour by hour, the Moon will method the cluster. By the point the Moon units after Three a.m. native time, observers within the Jap Time Zone will see the Moon solely a finger’s width beneath the cluster. Observers farther west will see the Moon go throughout the cluster and go away it behind earlier than moonset. To finest see Messier 35’s stars, cover the brilliant Moon past the higher fringe of your binoculars’ area of view.

Chris Vaughan is a science author, geophysicist, astronomer, planetary scientist and an “outreach RASCal.” He writes Astronomy Skylights, and you may comply with him on Twitter at @astrogeoguy. He may carry his Digital Starlab moveable inflatable planetarium to your college or different daytime or night occasion. Contact him by means of AstroGeo.ca to tour the universe collectively.

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