THE BIG SKY

Canal Boat - - Boater’s Break - WITH SEB JAY

FE­BRU­ARY USH­ERS IN a spec­tac­u­lar gath­er­ing of na­ture’s finest for boat dwellers. The party be­gins on Fe­bru­ary Eve at 6pm. As dark­ness de­scends, look to your south­west for a trio of ce­les­tial de­lights – a ridicu­lously bright Venus atop a thin cres­cent moon with the del­i­cate or­ange-pink hue of Mars across to the left. Use your imag­i­na­tion and the whole gath­er­ing might look like a gi­ant but rather lob-sided smiley face in the sky.

Same time on 1 Fe­bru­ary, our smile is re­ar­ranged into a straight­for­ward line con­tain­ing the moon top left, Venus bot­tom right and Mars sand­wiched be­tween. Mars and Venus are, in fact, at their clos­est point in the sky to each other for this year on 2 Fe­bru­ary, by which time the moon has climbed away, stretch­ing the line.

Fe­bru­ary fun­time con­tin­ues for early ris­ers. Cast a bleary eye to the south at 5am to catch Jupiter’s daz­zling light. It sits atop an­other bright star – and no, your sleepy eyes don’t de­ceive. That star be­neath re­ally is blue. For a more pleas­ing view, try 5am on 15 and 16 Fe­bru­ary when a wan­ing moon adds a touch more drama to this early morn­ing scene.

Look for a gi­ant smiley face beam­ing down on 31 Jan­uary. Im­age Seb Jay

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