Southern Colorado Skies / February 18-24, 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

Later in the week the Moon passes through the Hyades in Taurus and then above Orion. As shown on the graphic, this area is “target rich” in Messier objects for you to enjoy with your binoculars or telescope. For an explanation of Messier objects (designated with an ‘M’ in the graphic), see my short article at http://scaspueblo.com/blog/2017/03/16/what-is-a-messier-object/).

 

 Speaking of Messier objects, try using binoculars and look about one field-width (4 degrees) south of Sirius to see the open star cluster M41, which is about 2,200 light-years away. Sirius (“only” 8.6 light-years away) and M41 may be found high in the south by 8 or 9 p.m. this week. Here is a photo I took which shows something of what you will be treated to.

Thursday through Saturday (February 22-24)

The Moon travels near Aldebaran and the Hyades, as shown in the above graphic. The first-quarter Moon occurs at 1:09 a.m. MST on Friday.

DAYLIGHT

 

PLANETS

Mercury (in Aquarius)

Lost in the glare of the Sun.

Venus (in Aquarius)

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

Mars (in Ophiuchus) 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.

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.

Uranus (in Pisces)

High in the west at nightfall.

Neptune (in Aquarius)

Neptune is now 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/.

Monday (February 19) 4:41:14 a.m. / Magnitude -2.5 / N / Elevation 21 degrees

Monday (February 19) 6:18:34 p.m. / Magnitude -1.7 / S / Elevation 46 degrees

Tuesday (February 20) 4:35:43 a.m. / Magnitude -3.5 / N / Elevation 18 degrees

Tuesday (February 20) 6:12:39 p.m. / Magnitude -2.9 / S / Elevation 46 degrees

Saturday (February 24) 6:12:18 a.m. / Magnitude -4.0 / N / Elevation 54 degrees

Saturday (February 24) 7:35:10 p.m. / Magnitude -7.5 / SE / Elevation 43 degrees

Sunday (February 25) 6:06:18 a.m. / Magnitude -8.1 / N / Elevation 52 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