[STARGAZING] Mars and Its Rival On View

This February is a rare month that has no full moon. This is because both January and March have so-called “blue moons,” a second full moon in a single calendar month.

The moon will be new on February 15th. First quarter moon happens on the 23rd, but the month changes before the next full moon, on March 1st.

No bright planets appear in the evening sky until nearly the month’s end. On the 26th, look just above the western horizon about 30 minutes after sunset to see the planet Venus. As the brightest object in the sky after the Sun and Moon, the return of Venus to the evening sky will become eye catching within a few weeks while the planet moves higher into the sky and remains for a longer period each night.

Mercury will be too close to the sun to see this month, but the other bright planets are visible before dawn. The brightest of them, Jupiter, rises at around midnight, and it is close to the meridian, straight south, at dawn.

The orange planet Mars can be seen until 30 minutes before sunrise, when it is 30 degrees above the southeast horizon. On the 12th, Mars is five degrees—half the portion of the sky that your clenched fist covers when viewed from arm’s length—above the bright star Antares. The name Antares means “Rival of Mars” in Greek because the star’s orange hue matches that of the planet.

The ringed planet Saturn appears bright, golden, and to the lower left of Mars, between Mars and the horizon.

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