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Night sky guide for February 2014

night-sky-guide-for-february-2014

According to AMS, February offers the meteor observer in the northern hemisphere a couple of weak showers plus falling sporadic rates. February is also the start of the fireball season, when an abundance of fireballs seem to occur. This lasts well into April and seems to occur mostly during the early evening hours.

February 4 – February Epsilon Virginids meteor shower peak. This is a weak shower active only from February 3 – 6. Rates would mostly likely be less than one shower member per hour, no matter your location.  At 65 km/sec. the February Epsilon Virginids would produce mostly swift meteors. It is possible that these meteors are a continuation of the Coma Berenicids which were active In December and January. (AMS)

February 4 – February Eta Draconids meteor shower peak. The meteor shower is active from January 29 through February 9, with maximum activity occurring on February 4. The current location of this radiant is estimated to be 15:56 (239) +62. This area of the sky is located in central Draco, 5 degrees east of the  3rd magnitude star Eta Draconis. Due to the high northern declination (celestial latitude) these meteors are poorly seen from the southern hemisphere. Rates less than 1 are expected this week. At 36 km/sec, the February Eta Draconids would produce mostly medium velocity meteors. (AMS)

February 8 – Alpha Centaurids meteor shower peak 06:00 UTC. This meteor shower is active from January 28 – February 21 and will peak on February 8 at 06:00 UTC as the Earth passes through the center of the meteor stream. Due to the southern declination of this radiant, these meteors are not well seen in the northern hemisphere. Current rates would be near 1 per hour as seen from the southern hemisphere and less than 1 from the northern hemisphere (AMS). The Alpha Centaurids have maximum hourly rates of 3, and an average magnitude of 2.45.

February 11 – Conjunction between the Moon and Jupiter – 05:09 UTC. The Moon and Jupiter will make a close approach, passing within 4°56' of each other. Read more

February 14 – Full Moon – 23:54 UTC. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Snow Moon because the heaviest snows usually fell during this time of the year. Since hunting is difficult, this moon has also been known by some tribes as the Full Hunger Moon. In English-speaking world it is traditionally called the Wolf Moon. Its distance from the Earth will be 403 000 km. Read more

February 19 – Conjunction between the Moon and Mars – 22:23 UTC. The Moon and Mars will make a close approach, passing within 2°59' of each other. Read more

February 20 – M81 passes opposition – 23:56 UTC. Bode's galaxy (M81, NGC 3031) in Ursa Major will be well placed for observation, culminating at around midnight UTC. At a declination of +69°04' , it is seen to best advantage in the northern hemisphere. Read more

February 21 – Conjunction between the Moon and Saturn – 22:13 UTC. The Moon and Saturn will make a close approach, passing within 0°18' of each other.  At the moment of closest approach, the Moon will be at mag -12.1, and Saturn at mag 1.0, both in the constellation Libra. Read more

Tonight's Sky: February 2014 – Video courtesy Hubble Space Telescope

Sky & Telescope's SkyWeek – February 2014 – Video courtesy Sky & Telescope

Featured image: Solar System Scope. Edit: The Watchers

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