Southern Colorado Skies / February 11-17, 2018

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

THIS WEEK

The Moon makes a passage this week above Venus and then above elusive Neptune, as shown in the following graphic. Look to the west-southwest about 20 minutes after sunset on Friday through Sunday.

 

Did you see the planetary alignment on Sunday morning (February 11th)? The wider view below shows the Moon and Saturn (lower left) and Jupiter (upper right). To the lower left of Jupiter note two equally bright reddish ‘stars’: the top one is Mars and the bottom one is Antares, the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius. (“Antares” means “equal to Mars” and it’s easy to see here how the two could be confused.)

The close-up below shows earthshine on the Moon (reflected light from the bright side of the Earth), and you can just pick out the rings in Saturn to its lower right.

Thursday (February 15)

New Moon at 2:02 p.m. MST.

Friday (February 16)

Look to the west-southwest over the mountains to catch a glimpse of Venus near the very thin crescent Moon. See above graphic.

Saturday (February 17)

The Moon is a little easier today after sunset, hovering above Venus. See above graphic.

DAYLIGHT

 

PLANETS

Mercury (in Capricornus)

Lost in the glare as it undergoes conjunction with the Sun.

Venus (in Aquarius)

Venus is just starting its “evening star” apparition and appears about 20 minutes after sunset in the west-southwest (see above graphic). Venus is very faint, however, and may require binoculars to have a good look.

Mars (in Scorpius) and Jupiter (in Libra)

Both planets rise well after midnight and are well up in the southern sky by early dawn. Look for Mars to the lower left (east) of much brighter Jupiter.

Don’t mistake reddish Mars for reddish Antares a little further down. Antares (translates as “anti Ares” or Mars’ opposite, because they look similar) is the alpha star in the constellation Scorpius.

(See the above photo for a view from Sunday, February 11th.)

Saturn (in Sagittarius)

Saturn offers a decent low in the dawn light to the southeast. If you don’t see Saturn right away, try drawing an imaginary line from bright Jupiter through Mars and then continue it way down toward the horizon.

(See the above photo for a view from Sunday, February 11th.)

Uranus (in Pisces)

High in the southwest at nightfall.

Neptune (in Aquarius)

Very low in the west-southwest at nightfall and essentially lost in the sunset.

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 location in order to be assured of accurate times, elevations, etc. If you’re unfamiliar with Iridium flares, check out my short article at: http://scaspueblo.com/blog/2017/02/25/iridium-flares/.

Wednesday (February 14) 6:39:51 p.m. / Magnitude -2.1 / S / Elevation 44 degrees

 

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS)

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

Carpe noctem

Dave Furry

Pueblo West, Colorado

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