Southern Colorado Skies / February 5 – 11, 2017

Consider a planetarium program to help you plan your observations. There are many commercial products available, and an excellent program (STELLARIUM) is available free at http://www.stellarium.org/.

THIS WEEK

Later in the week, look to the west before dawn to see the full Moon on its course through Cancer and Leo as shown here. (This scene is also available the previous evening in the east!)

GL-8

I mentioned the Winter Hexagon over the past couple of weeks. In case you haven’t had a chance to see it, look up just after dark, starting with Sirius at the bottom of the hexagon. Proceed clockwise through Procyon, Pollux and Castor (counts as one object here), Menkalinan, and Capella, Aldebaran over to Capella’s lower right, down to Rigel in Orion’s foot, and back to Sirius. Betelgeuse shines inside the Hexagon, off center.

The asteroid Vesta is accessible to binoculars and small telescopes at Magnitude 6.6 in Gemini near Pollux and Castor. Sky and Telescope magazine offers a finder chart (and article) at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/vesta-the-brightest-asteroid-now-high-overhead/.

There is a penumbral lunar eclipse that may be at least partially visible from Pueblo on Friday, February 10th. The predicted times are mid-eclipse at 5:44 p.m. MST and penumbra last visible at 7:14 p.m. MST.

DAYLIGHT (new feature)

daylight_2017

 

Tuesday (February 7)

If you’re tired of winter, look due east for the bright star Regulus, which is the ‘heart’ of Leo (the Lion); there is an old saying that “Leo announces spring” (good luck with that).

Wednesday (February 8)

Look for the Moon within the Winter Hexagon (see above) between Pollux and Procyon.

Friday (February 10)

Full Moon 5:33 p.m. MST. A penumbral eclipse of the Moon is visible around sunset or early evening (see above for timetable).

PLANETS

Mercury (in Capricornus):

Look very low in the east-southeast about 20 minutes or so before dawn with binoculars (beware of the rising Sun!).

Venus (in Pisces)

Shining brightly n the southwest in the early evening.

Mars (in Pisces):

Look for a faint orange “star” to the upper left of Venus.

Jupiter (in Virgo):

Jupiter rises about 11 p.m. and dominates the southern sky before dawn. The bright star a few degrees below it is Spica (in Virgo). Jupiter reaches opposition on April 7th, which is its closest approach during this apparition.

Saturn (in Ophiuchus):

Look in the southeast before and during dawn. Reddish Antares is about 16 degrees to Saturn’s right (about the width of your fist with your thumb extended, held out at arm’s length).

Uranus (in Pisces):

High in the southwest after nightfall.

Neptune (in Aquarius):

Lost in the evening twilight.

BRIGHT IRIDIUM FLARES

The following data are based on my location in Pueblo West, Colorado. If you live well outside this area, you should consider checking this information for your site in order to be assured of accurate times, elevations, etc.

Wednesday (February 8): 6:08:01 a.m. / Magnitude -5.4 / ENE / Elevation 13 degrees

Thursday (February 9): 5:52:23 a.m. / Magnitude -2.5 / ENE / Elevation 10 degrees

Saturday (February 11): 6:48:02 a.m. / Magnitude -6.2 / SE / Elevation 24 degrees

Saturday (February 11): 7:24:11 p.m. / Magnitude -6.6 / NNE / Elevation 36 degrees

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS)

These are too numerous to list here! If you’re serious, load the ISS DETECTOR app on your smart phone or tablet.

Carpe noctem

Dave Furry

Pueblo West, Colorado

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